Japan and the Pacific



Japan seeks a Pacific Empire


Japan started to grow in 1913. Japan won the war against China. However, since their resources were running out, they went to European colonies in Southeast Asia. In August 1940, Americans cracked the Japanese secret code that had information about attacking Southeast Asia. In response, America cut off oil supply to Japan; if Japanese takes over Southeast Asia, it might also threaten U.S. territories: Philippines and Guam.

The Surprise Attack on Pearl Harbor


pearl-harbor.jpgbombing on Pearl Harbor



Pearl Harbor


Isoroku Yamamoto, a Japanese naval admiral, considered Hawaii as a great threat to Japan; most of the U.S. Pacific fleet was in Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto decided to attack Hawaii. On December 7th, 1941, Japan suddenly bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii island, the U.S. was unprepared. Though America cracked Japanese code, they didn't know when or where would be attacked. America lost a great amount of ships and soldiers during the bombing, so the next day the U.S. Congress declared war against Japan.
external image hawaii.pacific.gifHawaii' location in Pacific



Japan's victory


After the bombing on Pearl Harbor, Japan kept conquering other countries such as, Guam, Wake Island, Phillippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Indonesia. The land that Japan conquered in Asia was humongous. If you add up all the lands that Japan had conquered it is close to 1 million mile square. Conquering all the Asian countries, Japan said "Asia for the Asians." Japan became brutal and cruel to it's collonized nations.

The video below shows the bombing on Pearl Harbor link


The video below shows the people in Hawaii suffering link


The Allies Strike Back


1.bmpAs the Japanese continued their victories, they seemed almost unbeatable. However, the Allies, Americans and Australians, wanted to revenge Japanese for Pearl Harbor. So then, Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle sent 16 B-25 bombers to attack Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The attack affected Japan little damage, but the fact that Japan could be attacked raised the Allies' psychological points, such as their morale.


To the right is a picture of Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle









4.bmpThe Allies Turn the Tide of War


Later on, Japanese started to lose their confidence and the Allies started to gain confidence. In May 1942, an American fleet intercepted Japanese strike force, and learned that the Japanese were about to attack Port Moresby. The Japanese were trying to conquer Port Moresby, so they can easily invade Australia, which is located right below Port Moresby. Knowing Japanese's plan, the Allied airbase in New Guinea held back Japanese force, but later on, this lead to the Battle of the Coral Sea.
← In this map, Port Moresby is on the Southern part of the New Guinea Island.

During the Battle of the Coral Sea, the two forces had a war using new naval warfare, in which airplanes from aircraft carriers did all the fighting. At the end, the Allies lost more ships that the Japanese did, so the Japanese claimed victory. However, the fact that it was the Allies' first time to stop Japan's expansion was able to encourage the Allies.







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The Battle of Midway

Japan's next target was Midway Island. However, In June 1942, Japanese code was broken once again, and the Allies knew that about 150 Japanese ships were coming to Midway. Among the 150 ships, it contained the world's largest battleship, carrying Admiral Yamamoto himself.
(right) the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz

The Allies' forces were outnumbered by four to one, but Chester Nimitz, the new commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, had a plan. In June 4, 1948, he planned an ambush, hiding forces beyond the horizon. He first let the Japanes to attack the Midway, then attacked the Japanese force. Chester Nimitz's plan turned out to be a success, destroying 332 Japanese planes, all four aircraft carriers, and one support ship. In June 6, the Battle of Midway was over, turning the tide of war against the Japanese.

(Below) A video of the Battle of Midway: Most of the scenes of this video are actual film taken during the battle. link


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The Allies Go on the Offensive


After the Midway victory, the Allies started to attack the Japanese troops. However, the Japanese troops had hundreds of islands across the Pacific ocean. Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Allied land force, knew that it would take long and cost a lot to attack each island. So, he "island-hopped" and took over Japanese strongpoints. Then, he seized not well-defended islands and cut supply lines by using air power to starve Japanese troops. MacArthur once said, "Hit 'em where they ain't, let 'em die on the vine."
← the commander of the Allied land forces in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur

Soon, the U.S. knew that Japanese were building huge air base on the island of Guadalcanal. Knowing that they should stop the island from being another strongpoint of the Japanese troops, on August 7, 1942, 19,000 U.S. marines and Australian support combined attacked Guadalcanal. On Februrary, 1943, Japan finally abandoned the island, after losing 23,000 out of 36,000. The Japanese called the island of Guadalcanal "the Island of Death."





Power Point
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E.pd 16.2 Japan and the Pacific