Even though it's simply a mess of archipelagos off the coast of Asia, Japan is prone to being a major power. More than that, though, it's prone to being the same major power, every time. This industrial standard is Bland United Japan.
Key features of Bland United JapanEdit
Bland United Japan is something that doesn't challenge Western, Japanese, or (most importantly) the author's idea of Japan's place in the world. Bland United Japan, therefore, converges with OTL history at least enough to have these core features in common - and usually many more.
Bland United Japan is always sovereign. If Japan isn't modernized, it dodders along in feudalism, and nobody - no America expanding in the name of Norton I, no French East India Company wrapping the Pacific Rim, no Taiping China spreading the good news, no Russia worried about the rest of this craziness and looking for an unsinkable aircraft carrier - thinks of changing that status quo with the power of gunboat diplomacy.
Bland United Japan always has a token Emperor, in whose name the Empire is run. In practice, the actual power is always centered in a shogunate, or a wealthy oligarchy, or a psychotic runaway military-industrial complex. The Emperor is never portrayed as being meaningfully or substantially powerful in his own right. Nor is Bland United Japan ever a republic, with the Imperial Family executed or reduced to National Living Treasures like deposed European dynasties.
Bland United Japan always Anglicizes. Bland United Japan doesn't always modernize, but if it does, it does so convergently - and that means being Anglo-American. Nothing, not even a surviving Angevin Empire united under the Capetians and ruled from Paris, will ever see Bland United Japan mangling their French instead. Nor will you ever see a vodka-drinking Bland United Japan building Orthodox churches, teaching Russian in school industrializing far faster than its role model. (If you should find such things, please inform H.D.M. as he would like to start collecting such Japans as these.)