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Akiyama Kagami no Yabō


Evangeline Anovilis
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It was evening over the mountainous inner regions of Akita Prefecture, the Dewa mountains covered in a white blanket of piling snow, which continued to descend silently from the heavens upon the land. The days were short, as was typical for the season and already it had grown dark outside. As Akiyama Kagami gazed outside the window, it seemed almost, as if on the other side of the glass panel, the snowfall and darkness were mingling merrily, creating a contrast of black and white, obscuring vision together in a solemn kind of harmony that was present in so many things in nature. To a degree, Akiyama lived up to her name, loving the autumn season, however, winter too was a time she genuinely enjoyed. As autumn gradually transitioned into winter, she did not really distinguish much, she just preferred this time of the year.

 

What she loved, well, it were these short days, these snowflakes, the black and white landscape that was typical for the time. Others called it dark and dead, but to her, it was more of a mysterious and calm, sterile atmosphere that was present in winter. Maybe the seasons just resonated more with Akiyama Kagamin's character. Well, given it was a matter of personal preference, such was surely the case. And while she was not particularly dong anything, Akiyama just stared into the approaching night, standing before the window in her coat and next to her suitcase and bag.

 

Indeed, this moment of silence was soon over, when the Prime Minister got reminded of the present, and of the circumstances. Her drifting mind was pulled back, as the door leading outside opened and with a wave of cold air and fresh snowflakes, a quite cold Tsukino hurried in, shutting the door quickly, before any more cold air could come. The head of Japanese intelligence, Tsukino Aoko, comparatively tall at a bit over 1.75 metres, stood in the entrance, looking around, surpressing a shivering, as she searched for the Prime Minister. "Akiyama-dono, everything is set. the entrance is clear, the car is ready. Is anything still needed?"

 

As Akiyama took her luggage and moved out in the hallway to get to Tsukino and the car, she chuckled for a moment, as she saw the head of the national intelligence. For some reason, the sight was just too entertaining, as it seemed all colour had left Tsukino. She knew, Tsukino was in general not a very colourful person, preferring not to stand out, but this time, she really was a perfect contrast, of long black hair and the slim black coat, and the white snow and face, which only gradually seemed to regain a slight blush from the warmth inside the building. Of course, Tsukino was quite surprised, if not to say slightly disturbed by Akiyama's reaction, but Akiyama Kagami said no word about it, simply stating. "Thanks, Tsukino-kun. shall we go, or do you want to warm yourself up a bit before?" However, Tsukino shook her head, politely stating. "There's no need to be concerned, I'm fine. We should go as soon as possible, before too much snow falls again or the car freezes. Akiyama-dono has to be back in the capital tomorrow." As she took the Prime Minister's suitcase, lifting it up with quite some ease, Tsukino added. "Will you be sleeping on the way to Tokyo? It will be a long day tomorrow." This time, Akiyama shook her head. "No, at most for an hour. I do want to experience the New Year awake. You know, I don't need that much sleep anyway." Tsukino's sigh was overshadowed by the howling snowstorm outside, as the Prime Minister opened the door and the Director of the Chūōchō followed.

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It was the next day, that Prime Minister Akiyama publicly visited the Meiji Shrine for the first shrine visit of the New Year. The choice of shrine for hatsumōde was something special for Akiyama this year, as she purposefully took the Meiji Shrine, which required further travel than some other shrines. But as one of Japan's most visited shrines, a visit to the Meiji shrine most likely was the most suited to be seen by ordinary Japanese and some good publicity could never hurt. Especially for the national conservative prime minister. But the Meiji Shrine was also a suitable Shrine these days for Akiyama, who saw herself in the reforming tradition of the Meiji Era. For a reason, the motto of the nation was once again "Fukoku kyōhei" and while Japan was in far less need of radical modernisation, the need for reform and the desire of the Japanese Empire to be once more recognised as a proper great power were what drove policy of the Kokumin Hoshutō and the Northern clique for quite some time now.

 

Accompanied once again by Director Tsukino, who also was kind of responsible for the Prime Minister's security during such events, as well as giving a hand in preparations. As, while Akiyama was normally able to dress herself, a helping hand with the kimono was always appreciated. Given the visit was not announced publicly, and Japan was a rather calm nation these days, the danger posed to the Prime Minister was minimal. At worst, people would bump into her, as the place could get rather crowded. To a degree, that was surely one downside of visiting the Meiji Shrine and Akiyama silently regretted it a bit, once there, as the place was filled with people, forming a queue to be able to make their prayers. But traditions were traditions and while Akiyama hated crowds, avoiding them at every instance, she was never going to neglect one of the most important shrine visits of the year.

 

It was a bit of an internal conflict for Akiyama, as she deemed it her duty to be more visible in public, yet personally disliked the crowds. Although she greeted quite a few ordinary people with a smile and at times with a handshake, the whole event did kind of tire her out and cause some distress, which made Akiyama all the happier, as she finally was able to take her turn to offer her prayers and withdraw a bit in the background. Tsukino, who had up to then kept a polite distance, walking a fw steps behind to avoid drawing attention, slowly closed in, as Akiyama sought some quiet corner to rest. "Everything alright? Shall we return to the Kantei?" Akiyama sighed, as she saw the Director of the Chūōchō worry. "No need to worry. I'm fine. Also, there's an appointment soon, so going to the Kantei is out of the question." But it seemed, Akiyama looked worse than she realised, as Tsukino seemed to be growing only more worried. "Akiyama-dono, you hardly seem fine. Can I do anything to help?"

 

For a moment, Akiyama thought. Her strength seemed to be failing and a slight headache set in, but she did not want to worry Tsukino too much, so she merely replied with a kind smile. "It's fine, I should've slept some more. I guess we should be going to our next meeting." Without further words, she hooked her arm with Tsukino's and rested her head against the dark blue fabric covering Aoko's shoulder. "You sure it is only lack of sleep? You look very pale. It isn't..." "No, it isn't. Just tired. Now be quiet." Kagami cut Aoko short. Then followed silence. Kagami avoided looking up, but she could guess how Aoko now felt. She already regretted being this harsh, as Aoko had only been worried. And not without reason. But Kagami hated talking about her health and she already felt miserable enough. Still, Aoko must have been hurt by the violent rejection and the silence weighed heavily on Kagami's mind. With a significantly lowered voice she thus broke the absolute silence. "Sorry. You were just worried." Looking up at Aoko, the normally rather cold expression changed to a happy and reliefed smile. "No. I should have been more considerate, even if I'm worried about you." The two had already left the shrine behind and they were slowly walking down the streets, following Akiyama's subtle lead. Maybe it was thus, that Kagami lowered her gaze again and shyly mumbled "You look cute in kimono." For a moment, it seemed Aoko was dumbfounded, before uneasily replying. "You too." Silence ensued again.

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Akiyama Kagami's schedule for the New Year already started packed, as it was not even an hour after the visit to the shrine, that the Prime Minister had her first appointment. And that this first appointment of the New Year was not with any cabinet minister or foreign dignitary or high-ranking party official, but with a member of the Hokubatsu, the small political elite of Northerners, was proving just once more how much even Akiyama relied on this pillar of the Kokumin Hoshutō. Of course, such visits were mostly paid behind the scenes, as it was pretty much the polar opposite of diplomatic meetings. When Akiyama considered the diplomatic visits that happened, most were more about the fact there was a meeting, than about the negligible results. A few statements on good relations, a smile for the press, a handshake and a lot of hot air. Meanwhile, these were the meetings that noone ever covered, the ones that most hardly ever would know of, but they were decisive for most policies. Regardless of when and where such meetings occured, they were all about the content and if there was nothing to actually discuss, they did not happen.
 
"Whom are we actually going to meet?", Tsukino asked, as she sat down at the table, next to Akiyama. From the small obscure kissaten, Tsukino could already guess somewhat the kind of person they were going to meet. After all, it was someone Akiyama wanted to meet in private, but who was not to be seen visiting the Kantei. So, someone who was good for services, but not for the Prime Minister's image. A small tea-serving facility like this one seemed to be hardly ever frequented and if anyone was to see them, they'd mostly think it was just a small meeting between friends, not paying much attention to details. But this obscure nature made Tsukino just more nervous and curious. "You'll see. Just, don't act too surprised and please don't interrupt us."
 
Tsukino asked no further, as it seemed Akiyama was not going to tell. Without turning her head, she tried scanning the room for any people Akiyama wanted to meet, but it seemed the location was well-picked - they were the sole customers right now. The owner just stood there, waiting to take orders, once the mystery guest appeared. Maybe he was an acquaintance of Akiyama, to be this patient? Akiyama seemed to notice the curiosity of Tsukino. "It's still five minutes till we are supposed to meet. And from what I know, they'll be in time." Tsukino sighed. "Not even five minutes early? Kind of rude..." Akiyama chuckled. "Well, I guess someone is confident to be on time and has enough pride to act like this even towards me." Tsukino wondered still who this person could be, when she suddenly was surprised by Akiyama's hand grasping hers beneath the table. "Etto... Akiyama-dono? Are you feeling unwell again?" She hardly knew how to respond to this sudden sensation. But Akiyama just kept holding her hand and asked, as if there was nothing unusual about it. "You don't like it?" Aoko was silent for a moment. Kagami's hand was not too warm, it actually felt somewhat cold, but it was not too uncomfortable. "It isn't that... but well... I don't think this is appropriate." "Hmph..." That was all that came, as Kagami withdrew her hand, looking in a corner of the room, pouting. Aoko sighed, as this was beyond what she felt she could really deal with. "Aren't you a bit touchy-feely today? We are waiting for someone after all. What would you tell them, if they noticed?"

 

Suddenly, the door opened, and someone entered. Looking around for a moment, they seemed to notice the sole guests and immediatly headed over to their table. Tsukino looked at the her wristwatch and indeed, they were just on time. She couldn't shake the feeling that this was quite pretentious, but for now, she was more interested in who the mysterious guest was. And indeed, she had a hard time hiding her surprise, as a person she actually knew took the seat opposite of them. Date Seiranko was known for quite a few things. Her political career had started on the local level in Sendai, she later became the party president of the Hoshutō and Kokumin Hoshutō and due to her role in the formation of the modern Japanese state and the Japanese Navy, she was quite well-known. But Date's image had been linked to the image of the Nihon Kaigun so intricately, that the incdents of the fleet spelled the end of both. However, the fleet was reestablished, out of necessity... Date was not. These days, Date was deemed worth surveillance by the internal intelligence. In fact, Tsukino had already once had insight into the file on Date Seiranko. What did Akiyama want of such a political deadweight?

 

"Gokigen'yo. It is good to see you had time to meet us today.", the Prime Minister greeted with a friendly smile, but Date merely nodded politely, seeming hardly enthusiastic. To a degree, it was understandable, given the factional conflicts within the party. But still... "I guess you two just had your hatsumōde? I hope you drew a good fortune." Akiyama chuckled. "Yes, we were at the Shrine earlier. But no, I don't draw fortunes. I think in my position, divine assistence is surely helpful, but I cannot afford to rely on such matters when making my decisions." Date merely nodded. She put her black coat aside, and now sat there in a prim and proper white blouse and dark brown skirt with black stockings. "So, what does the Prime Minister wish to discuss?" Akiyama waited for a moment, as the question was posed and silently reposed by Tsukino, who just looked at the Prime Minister wondering. "Well, I thought that maybe I could convince you to work for Japan again." Date looked dumbfounded and Tsukino tried her very best to not act surprised. "Prime Minister, I am quite surprised, but you will understand that I must ask how comes that you ask me. You do know my... circumstances." Akiyama nodded. "I know them. And I think that back then, they were warranted. But I think, that times change, people learn, and while you mishandled the situation, overall, we need people who have their heart at the right place and who have learned how to act prudently." Date still seemed not too convinced, but Akiyama immediatly followed up. "I'd like to have you return to the Fleet. Up to now, you have been advocating a strong fleet and Japan will need a strong Navy, if it is to overcome the challenges ahead."

 

"Would this not have diplomatic consequences? I'm sure there are better suited people around." Akiyama shook her head. "No, I want you, back in the Fleet Ministry and the Navy to be strengthened. You enjoy the trust of the Naval Staff and I will take care of any issues that ensue. You got a problem with being Minister again?" "Well... I doubt you are offering this without some other motives... We both know where Akechi went..." Akiyama laughed for a moment, before becoming dead serious. "Hah, yes, of course... I want your cooperation. I think we both know, that there are those who remain and are loyal more to you than to me and who may at some point cause issues. I want no such factionalism within our armed forces, our national security or our party anymore." The conversation had turned somewhat strange, Tsukino felt. From the start, it was out of the ordinary, but still... What was Akiyama thinking? Would Date accept such? Both seemed to have left behind the niceties and were now discussing more or less openly. Facades were dropped. "So, this is what you wanted. Well, I'm not a pawn and I have no intention of becoming one. If you cannot restrain the factions, why should I do it for you?" "Well, I'm not asking for you to swear an oath of allegiance to me. But I think, we can both work together. I want your help to concentrate our forces. In return, I open the door back into politics for you. Please don't forget, we are both on the same side here. We both want Japan to prosper and become great." "And if I say no?" Date leaned back in her chair. It seemed, the former Minister of the Fleet was not too keen on the prospect of this alliance... But Akiyama had none of it. "Well, you can of course decline. But should I ever encounter some faction obstructing Japanese policy again... I'll not back away from a confrontation and I'll promise you... I'll crush every last one of your uppity cronies if I have to. Unless you get rehabilitated, you are but a political pariah and we both know, there's not a whole lot you can do to protect your old friends from following your fate. Akechi will then only have been the first. So, chose carefully." Tsukino was surprised at the harsh words, but Date was utterly baffled. For a solid minute, she seemed at a loss of words, before regaining her composure finally. Still, she seemed less than amused by being threatened. "I'm going to consider your kind offer, Prime Minister. But I still have to think about it, given the responsibility that comes with it. So, if you'd excuse..." Akiyama nodded with a kind smile, as Date took up her coat and bowed out. But just before leaving, she turned around and sniped. "If you don't want her to be referred to as your lap dog, you might want to make it less obvious."

 

Tsukino did not know what to say. Akiyama merely sighed. "Well, at least she won't have any doubt on where the national intelligence stands now." "Was that the reason you brought me here?" Aoko felt slightly hurt in her pride. Even if she felt loyal to Akiyama, she rather not be called a lap dog or be used by Akiyama in such a manner. But Kagami merely sat there, smiling. "No. you are here because otherwise I could not do this." Kagami once again slumped over and leaned against Aoko's shoulder, hugging her. Aoko was surprised, but before she could object, Kagami silently asked "Please stay like this for bit." and dozed off. Aoko was flustered, but couldn't object. She waved the owner of the establishment to bring her tea (given they had not yet consumed a thing, but time) who just smiled at the two knowingly, as he saw Kagami's clingy sleeping posture, saying not a single word.It kind of annoyed Aoko just the more. Why did Akiyama have to have such nasty habits? Well, not that it felt that bad... but it surely dd not feel right.

 

"What am I going to do with you?", she muttered, before nipping off the traditional tea cup.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Prime Minister Akiyama Kagami rather enjoyed her afternoon. Just like every afternoon, the schedule had a tea break set at 4 pm, something the Prime Minister thoroughly enjoyed and which thus was observed everyday, unless a most pressing matter required her attention. Unlike the for Japan more typical green tea in form of macha, for her afternoon tea, Akiyama preferred the tea more typically used for this imported custom, Indian black tea. Not that Akiyama particularly disliked Japanese tea, however, still, for afternoon tea it had to be Darjeeling or Earl Grey. Sitting in her office in the Kantei, she normally spent this time on her own, thinking through her plans, the next steps to take, both in the country's domestic and foreign politics, but also in her private life. However, today was different.

 

After sitting in her chair, sipping tea and observing the uneasy silence, the Prime Minister cheerfully struck up a conversation. "It is nice to see you joining me for afternoon tea, Aoko. I was really surprised, given... you know, it normally is me asking you to spend some time with me. I already thought you didn't like me anymore." But while Akiyama smiled quite brightly, Tsukino didn't. Rather, she glanced at the Prime Minister with a rather sinister expression and stayed silent. Seemingly unfazed by the treatment, Akiyama merely remarked "Your tea is getting cold."

 

The Prime Minister quietly enjoyed her tea for a few more minutes, waiting, before it seemed like the atmosphere had become too intense. "If you got anything to say, say it, Tsukino-san. It is quite clear you aren't here due to the tea." With the spell of silence broken, the Director was still reluctant, but started. "Why did you do that?" "Do what?", came the immediate counter. Still somewhat reluctant, Tsukino hesitated for a moment, before asking clearly. "Date. Why did you reinstate her? Why did you give her this deal?"

 

Silence set in again. The Prime Minister signed, thinking for a moment how best to reply. "I guess, because of the consequences." Tsukino stared at Akiyama in sheer disbelief. "The consequences? The consequences?! That person is horrible. The consequences of her actions... we'd be at war in no time." While Tsukino was visibly agitated, Akiyama did not show much reaction. All the Director got as a response was a simple "I know.", causing Tsukino to become even more irritated. "Akiyama-dono. What is the meaning of this? If you know, are you saying you wish for war? Is that it? How...?"

 

"Tsukino, calm down." Tsukino went silent. She was not necessarily calm, but she at least hoped for an explanation. And such was given. "Our country has been seen as small and powerless for a long time. Despite our contributions to the Imperial sphere, the nations of the day treated us as a mere annex to Tianxia. And of all these nations, the American Commonwealth has been the most arrogant, believing themselves above us and ignoring our legitimate security concerns. I think, it is time for a lesson." Tsukino had trouble keeping her mouth shut, as she was struck by the belligerence of her superior. "But Akiyama-dono. The diplomacy... the costs... our image..." Akiyama took a sip from her tea cup, before responding. "As much as I get from Nakamichi, diplomacy is pointless. And while I am sure that our image will be taking damage, a decisive blow to the Commonwealth will leave no doubt in the eyes of the world, as to whether Japan is a mere tributary to Tianxia or an actor in its own right." Tsukino still seemed unconvinced. "But, the risk..." "I'm willing to take it. As should our valiant country. History has given us this opportunity, we better grasp it. There is no better time to strike." Akiyama seemed so convinced, the Director of the national intelligences was at a loss. "When will it be?" she muttered, defeated. "Once the new battleships are ready. We cannot lose time, but we also cannot lose the battle."

 

Tsukino went silent, somewhat shocked and depressed. But Akiyama mere sighed, smiled cheerfully and pointed out. "Come now. Your tea is getting cold."

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To many it was just another cold winter morning, with some slight snowfall in the Kanto area, when people were getting up and ready for work, if they were not already there. The public transportation network was filled to the brim with people and the streets of the capital were an image of semi-ordered chaos. However, while to most the day started with the usual routine, a small circle of people had a worse start into the day. Prime Minister Akiyama Kagami among them...

 

It had started at 4 am in the morning, when a call reached the Prime Minister's private residence, causing all kinds of trouble for Akiyama Kagami. While Akiyama was known to answer calls even very late at night, she consequently was hardly a morning person and it took a bit of time until a still drowsy Prime Minister picked up the phone. For a moment, she had wondered whether to even bother, before realising that whoever called at her private residence at this hour would have a very good reason to. As she hurried out of bedand to the phone, Akiyama already stumbled once over her blanket and landed flat on the carpet in front of her bed, before getting up and almost falling again on her way down the stairs. On the other end was noone other than the Sesshō and once Akiyama actually grasped that, she immediatly pulled herself together. Konoe Nobuhisa sounded everything other than happy when he sternly told the Prime Minister to see him at his residence, in order to discuss "this latest misguided madness of Date and yours [Akiyama]".

 

No more was needed to tell Akiyama what was the matter and silently cursing internally, she promised to be there within an hour. Konoe, normally calm, composed and friendly merely stated that she better not waste any time and ended the call. Immediatly, the Prime Minister picked up the phone again and called Tsukino, who seemed far less tired than herself despite the hour, and requested her to ready the car. From what Konoe had stated, the situation looked grim. The reaction seemed to imply the Regent was going to get involved. Akiyama had not informed Konoe and technically, there was not really much that the Regent could do constitutionally (being a placeholder for a figurehead). However, even then, Konoe was one of the founders of the modern Japanese !@#$%* and his words carried enough weight, both in the Northern clique and in the Diet to possibly cause more than serious issues.

 

Akiyama readied herself within the shortest time, hastily fixing her appearance to be proper enough to appear before Konoe, though always keeping an eye on the clock, as time was running. When Tsukino arrived no ten minutes later, she had to open the door of the Prime Minister's private mansion with her own key, as Akiyama was still busy getting dressed. Waiting for Akiyama, Tsukino prepared a cup of coffee for the Prime Minister, though she was pretty sure that Akiyama was y now fully awake, most likely in a slight shock even, due to the severity of the issue. But still, it was something warm on a cold morning.

 

Once all was prepared to a more or less suitable degree, Tsukino drove Akiyama to Akasaka Palace. When the Japanese Empire had been established, the then Kampaku Konoe had moved to Akasaka Palace, as the Imperial Palace was to be kept ready for use by Yuan Jia. However, with the death of the Emperor and the end of the personal union, the Imperial palace now was empty, as the Regent felt it unnecessarily large for his residence as the now Sesshō. For a moment, Tsukino wondered whether it was appropriate to ask the reason for the visit, given that she could guess why Akiyama was agitated. But in the end, Tsukino felt that it was better to ask and show some concern. "Is it about the war preparations?" Akiyama merely nodded. "Well, it'll work out. It is not too late after all."

 

As Akiyama finally arrived at Akasaka Palace, Tsukino let her out, before looking for somewhere to park the car. The Prime Minister was already awaited and one of the Regent's secretaries guided her to the meeting room. Her first view of the gathering caused Akiyama to feel even more uncomfortable, but she gulped down her fear, tried to hide her anxiety and took a seat at the table, opposite the Regent, right next to Date Seiranko. Konoe Nobuhisa had been viewed as one of the founding fathers of the new Japan and his person to many acted as a replacement for the missing Imperial institution. Konoe signified a certain pride in Japanese independence, aspiration for Japanese greatness, but also integrity and moderation. He was the one compromise candidate all parties could more or less agree on. Still, it had been a good while now and slowly, even Konoe had moved from being one of the more dynamic statemen to one of the more elderly. Not that he was particularly old... however, Akiyama could not help but feel that Konoe had seen better days. Well, most likely she herself right now looked as if she had seen better days.

 

The Regent did not even greet Akiyama, but he jumped straight to the matter at hand. "Prime Minister Akiyama, what is this Operation plan? And why did this become so clandestine an operation hardly anyone outside the cabinet knows? Explain yourself." Akiyama had expected such a question and the reply thus formed rather easily. "It is pretty much a strike aimed at removing the threat posed by the American Commonwealth. As you know, there have been increased tensions and a preventive strike has been considered at this time, due to the unique diplomatic opportunity. The plan has been kept a secret, in order to guarantee that it would not be leaked to the enemy in any way. It thus was only kept among the chief decision-makers."

 

"And how would that not include the National Diet?", Konoe asked, obviously keeping down his rage. Akiyama tried to carry an easy smile, as she muttered words that she knew would most likely cause a minor explosion to flare up. "It was planned without declaration of war, through a simple armed intervention. Thus, it stays within the constitutional constraints of my role as Commander of the Japanese armed forces." And indeed, the reaction was a glare that expressed more than Konoe could have ever stated in words alone. Akiyama felt somewhat sick from the pressure, as the tension in the room rose to unprecedented levels. "So, you were starting a war via a constitutional loophole... armed intervention... We all know that this would mean full-blown war. Do you have any idea what this would mean for Japan?"

 

"What we did, we did to secure the safety of the nation. The Commonwealth has been agitating Japan for years and continues to do so. Minister Nakamichi has sent reports on the failure that is their foreign policy to us on a regular basis and they are about to annex Alaska, establishing thereby a platform from which they can threaten us easily. I know, this would have adverse effects on Japan's diplomatic situation, but we can no longer tolerate the treatment we receive by the American Commonwealth. Not if Japan wants to become a great power in its own right one day.", Akiyama stated, defending her decision, expecting the Regent to either agree or to flip. But Konoe did neither. He merely looked at her with disappointment in his eyes. "Japan will become a great power when it is ready to be a great power. But to become one, it must conduct itself in a mature fashion. The immaturity shown in this plan is not befitting of a country that aims to be a great power. Just because the Commonwealth is in decline does not mean we have a right to attack them. Our country has to have values and adhere to them, if it wants to be proud of itself. Prime Minister Akiyama, I thought you were better than that hot-head next to you... and Date, there's things other than pride to consider. sending thousands of young boys to their death just to demonstrate power cannot be the Japanese way. It must not be. War must only be used to protect our country and its vital interests. Not to destroy people out of spite. You think Tianxia would be approving of this action?" Silence set in. Akiyama was leaving it to Date to defend herself for once, but that one rather stayed out, as if it did not concern her. "I'll tell you. Tianxia might not act now. But if Japan goes down this misguided path, one day they will. Our country needs to act mature, with confidence and with integrity, if it wants to become a power. And this plan pretty much throws over board all the achievements of the past few months. I'll thus ask you now, Prime Minister. Will you stop this action... or should I ensure that this country will not go down this path yet again?" Date cringed her death, knowing the answer already. Seeing that, Akiyama could guess Date was angry, but that was manageable. Konoe's anger would not be. "I'll turn it into practice. But should these provocations from the Commonwealth continue, Japan will have to assert herself." Konoe merely let out a sigh. "If war comes, it comes. But we need not instigate it needlessly. Use that vigor to improve our country at home."

Edited by Evangeline Anovilis
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  • 2 weeks later...

Had Konoe intervened still in order to argue against escalating tensions further with the American Commonwealth, the mood in Tokyo changed drastically soon thereafter. Both in public and in the leading circles, sentiment turned against the Commonwealth and its policies towards Japan. Reason for these changes were most of all two. In general, the return and reported failure of Nakamichi's mission to Washington, with its report on how it had been impossible to achieve any deescalatory measures of value undermined the position of those arguing for dialogue and it fanned the anger over perceived arrogance. The second event was the national conservative land-slide victory, which not only solidified the influence of Ministers, such as Date and Nakamichi (who had become thoroughly disillusioned with the Commonwealth), but also reduced the restrictions in place for these elites to act. Akiyama thus was quite confident in her position, both in the country and in the party, to finally make a move, a decisive one, and confront the American Commonwealth.

 

Using the moment's momentum, the Prime Minister called for a closed session of the National Diet, in order to adress the results of the Nakamichi mission and the Alaskan issue. And despite the concerns of the liberal opposition, a National Conservative-Progressive coalition eventually prevailed, approving not solely the funding of the 7th Naval Construction Plan, but also approving measures towards national mobilisation and the "Alaska Resolution", giving Prime Minister Akiyama free hand in using the national military to secure Japanese interests in Alaska. Reactions varied strongly, with the Liberal Party and the Greens despairing at the carte blanche that had been passed with a resounding majority, while Minister of the Navy Date Seiranko would later send an encrypted telegram to the Japanese embassy in Pune, reading...

 

Dear Mitsuki-chan,

 

It seems that the recent victory in the elections has paved the way for conflict with the American Commonwealth. We today have gained the necessary majority in the Diet and Akiyama-san has instructed me to make all preparations necessary to establish our presence in Alaska. The time of appeasing the decrepit Commonwealth is over, the coming struggle shall bring great honour upon Japan. It seems our patience paid off in the end.

 

Given you are at the Maratha court, please observe the situation carefully. I do not think there will be great isues with the Maratha Empire, even if we step into Alaska, but we should not underestimate the matter. Also, the recent crisis in South-East Asia needs to be observed, lest the Burmese turmoil causes issues while we are going to be embroiled with the Commonwealth.

 

Overall, I do not think the operations will be easy. Some in the Diet thought that we should merely conduct a limited action and establish a presence, but I hold, we should just go in without holding back. The Commonwealth has already shown last time that despite its ineptitude, diplomacy is futile and limited action will only place us into a disadvantagous position. I do hope that we can just crush them and put an end to their arrogance. Let us work hard to overcome their challenge and show the Commonwealth the actual strength of great yamato.

 

Look out for yourself and good luck,

 

With regards,

Seiranko

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  • 4 weeks later...

It was quite hectic these days in Tokyo. Well, it was always hectic in Tokyo, a metropolis of over 35 million. However, it was especially hectic for the government, most of all for Prime Minister Akiyama. While she had already had all hands full during wartime, now that a working occupation regime was needed for North America, there was an upcoming meeting with the Russians, Korea had a place on the agenda, the press demanded answers and the world needed to be reassured that Japan was being responsible with the power and nuclear weaponry that had fallen to it with the Commonwealth demise. And who knew what could not come from the Americas... It was thus not strange to see Akiyama travel from one appointment to another, almost flying, yet still neglecting some aspects that were deemed less crucial for now. For example would someone else need to represent Japan at the meeting in Russia.

 

Still, this day, the Prime Minister seemed even more tired than usual, when Tsukino came to visit her first thing in the morning, in order to present personally the daily intelligence report. Upon knocking on Akiyama's office door, Tsukino Aoko had only heard an almost silent groan, which she took as affirmative... well, she entered anyway, given it gave her a bad feeling. Knowing who it was, Akiyama hardly looked up, but just rested her head on the table, seemingly sleeping at her office desk. While Tsukino originally had intented to ask something else from Akiyama too, the state the Prime Minister was in pretty much prevented her from asking, as she could guess the answer. After a short exchange, Tsukino merely down-trottenly asked whether Akiyama was feeling unwell, but that question was not even answered. All there came was a moan and a "I'm fine. Just five more minutes."

 

Originally, Aoko had wanted to ask her out for dinner, or at least some lunch together, but with the current schedule, it'd be some time till the nation would allow its Prime Minister some rest. She thus just walked off to the kitchen and prepared a cup of coffee for the corpse that sprawled over the table. When she returned, Kagami had hardly moved, just turned the head on the table to read the lines on the written report memo. "You aren't looking too fine. You should try to sleep more." Kagami merely nodded (as far as her position allowed for such a gesture) and whispered "Too busy." Aoko sighed. "Well, if you already feel this serviant to the nation, you should still take care of yourself properly, so you can do a proper job as Prime Minister. As it is, you can't even dress properly... or sit for that matter..." Aoko lifted Kagami up and put her into the office chair properly, before starting to fix the crocked tie, as it was obvious someone had dressed themself half-asleep. When she tried unbuttoning the shirt of the Prime Minister that had kind of dozed off, life returned to Akiyama in a split-second. "What are you doing?" Looking down, Kagami seemed to see the issue - her buttons were all off by one - and hastily added "I-I can do that myself. Thanks, but this much autonomy I still have." before fixing it.

 

"I know you are too busy... but please at least get your sleep properly." Aoko lectured Kagami, as she put the sugar in the coffee while Kagami was arranging her clothing properly. "You usually don't sacrifice sleep for anything. Is the situation this dire" The Prime Minister once again just murmured. "Was something special. Couldn't do it before" While talking, her eyes were fixed to the buttons, trying to focus to prevent embarrassing herself once more. Aoko merely shook her head. Truely, what tiring times these must be, that even an eccentric and self-centered Akiyama Kagami gave up her sleep. Well, what silently angered her most was that the Prime Minister was this out of shape on such a day and that not only could she not have lunch together... Akiyama had not even slept it seemed. "You are far too busy, what were you doing even?" Kagami, finally finished with her buttons and eagerly receiving the cup of coffee quickly avoided eye contact. "Nothing you need to know" Aoko frowned. "Notwithstanding the fact that I'm in charge of the national intelligence... I'm your friend. Why can't you tell me?" Kagami seemed somewhat uncomfortable and stayed quiet with her cup of coffee. Though usually calm, Aoko was now just frustrated and angered. This was by far the worst day in a while. Sure, there might be reasons, but still... just the combination of it all made it near-unbearable. "I'll be leaving you to your work then. Tell me when there's something you can tell me."

 

As Aoko turned around and was about to leave, she could feel Kagami hastily grabbing her arm and tugging it. "What is it?" But as she turned around, the grumpy Akiyama from moments ago seemed to be gone, replaced by a (still overly tired) desperate Kagami, that with her eyes pleaded her not to go. "Gomen, Aoko. I-I just..." Tears seemed to well up in Akiyama's eyes. Aoko immediatly turned around, trying to calm Kagami. Was the work too much? "Please forgive me, Aoko. I tried really hard to get a free place, but there's just too much to take care of... So...so, I thought I'd at least make these." With a shaking hand, Kagami opened a drawer and took out a small box. "I tried all night, but you know I'm not that great. I never was good at it... so I became a politician instead." Kagami tried to smile, though now it was Aoko's turn to be silent. She couldn't figure out whether to condemn herself or be happy. "I...I,'m sure we'll find some time after all this is over." She knew not what to say. Kagami nodded. "We will."

 

Suddenly, the phone rang, taking both out of their little world. Hastily, Akiyama picked up. "Akiyama Kagami here, who am I talking with?" The Prime Minister gestured a few signs to express that she was sorry, but Tsukino merely smiled and bowed out. Even if this day Akiyama spent once again mostly as Prime Minister, Tsukino had already received enough. Her day had already been made. After closing the office door, she opened the small box, took one of the pralines and ate it. It was kind of passable, had a weird note to it and overall was strangely shaped, but that didn't matter really. After all, to Aoko it tasted sweet like finest honey and fluffy like sugar candy.

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