WWII The Pacific Study Guide
Use these notes to help you on the DBQ & Multiple choice
Start of Conflict in the Pacific
Japanese expansion in East Asia began in late 1931 after the invasion of Manchuria, which ended the post-Great War peace, and causing the United States to conclude hostilities by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Throughout 1931 and 1945 the heated conflict expanded well beyond east Asia, and by 1941 World War II was a truly global war that spread quickly and involved many countries in most continents.
On September 27, 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, marking its entry into the military alliance known as the "Axis Powers." Seeking to curb Japanese aggression and force a withdrawal of Japanese military forces from Manchuria and China, the United States imposed economic sanctions on Japan. Japan was faced with severe shortages of oil and other natural resources and driven by the ambition to displace the United States as the dominant Pacific power. Ultimately, Japan decided to attack the United States and British forces in Asia and seize the resources of Southeast Asia.
The picture to the right is a self portrait of Fumimaro Konoe, Prime Minister of Japan 1937-1940
Japan in WWII
On December 7, 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack severely damaged the American fleet and prevented serious American interference with Japanese military operations for a while. As a reaction to this, the United States declared war on Japan. Following Germany's declaration of war on the United States, the United States also declared war on Germany.
After the attack on the U.S at Pearl Harbor, Japan achieved a long series of military successes. In December 1941, Guam and Wake Island fell to the power of the Japanese, which was also followed in 1942 by the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, and Burma. Australian and New Zealander forces in New Guinea and British forces in India were able to halt the Japanese advance in mid-1942.
Conflict in the Pacific
The turning point in the Pacific war came with the American naval victory in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, where the Japanese fleet sustained heavy losses and was turned back. In August 1942, American forces attacked the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, forcing a costly withdrawal of Japanese forces from the island of Guadalcanal in February 1943. The Allied forces slowly gained naval and air supremacy in the Pacific, and moved intelligently from island to island, conquering them and often sustaining significant casualties. The Japanese, however, managed to successfully defended their conquests on the Chinese mainland until 1945.
Late in 1944, American forces liberated the Philippines from Japan and began massive air attacks on Japan. In early 1945, American forces suffered heavy losses during the invasions of Iwo Jima in February and Okinawa in April, an island of strategic importance off the coast of the Japanese main islands. Despite these casualties and loses as well as suicidal Japanese air attacks known as "Kamikaze" attacks, American forces conquered Okinawa in mid-June 1945, which was a significant conquest for the American's and made Japan weaker.