The Emperor is dying ... and needs his secret to die with him.
(PAX) POX NIPPONICA is an alternate history novel set in a 1980s' Japan. The world is a very different place than the one we know. At the same time it is dealing with the Great Depression, the U.S.A. has been decimated by a devastating coronavirus that leaves it a shell of itself. Nazi Germany, the U.S.S.R. and a much-reduced Anglo-America are embroiled in a decades-long war of attrition that began as World War II. All of Asia is left for the Japanese Empire to do with it what it wills. It is ascendant, the dominant nation of the age, the single dominant economic, military and political power. The Empire is smugger in its role than a soy sauce salesman at a sushi festival.
The novel begins with a devastating earthquake that threatens to shake out some secrets the Empire would rather leave under mossy rocks or flooded rice paddies. While writing a story on shoddy construction practices linked to political corruption that magnified the earthquake destruction, journalist Shinzo Tokugawa rescues a group of Korean construction labourers from xenophobic Japanese villagers who think the earthquake and collapse of school buildings is their fault. In the course of publishing his story and protecting his source, Shinzo learns something that threatens the very legitimacy of the Japanese Emperor and the vast extended Empire he rules over. With the help of a couple of Japanese twin sisters, the husband of the American Ambassador to Japan, the Korean labourers he rescued, and the Japanese mafia, Shinzo battles the assembled forces of the Japanese socio-political elite. These include not only the presumptive Prime Minister-to-be Minoru Sasagawa, but also the country's version of the Gestapo, or Kempetai ; the dogged Inspector Asano of the Special Higher Police, or Tokkō; and the combined naval, air and land forces of the world's pre-eminent military power.