War with Japan, 1941-45

War with Japan, 1941-45

Outbreak of War: 1941

  • Attack on Pearl Harbor (December 1941): The Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii drew the United States into World War II, prompting the declaration of war on Japan.
  • Invasion of Southeast Asia: Simultaneously with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces moved into British-held Burma, Malaya, and Singapore, Dutch East Indies, and the US held Philippines.

Height of Japanese Control: 1942

  • Fall of Singapore (February 1942): Known as the worst disaster in British military history, this resulted in significant loss of personnel and resource for the Allies.
  • Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942): This was the first major setback for the Japanese, as it prevented their planned invasion of Port Moresby in New Guinea.

Turning Point: 1942-1943

  • Battle of Midway (June 1942): A significant turning point in the Pacific War where the US destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers, shifting the balance of power.
  • Guadalcanal Campaign (August 1942 - February 1943): This marked the start of the Allies’ counter-offensive in the Pacific, depriving Japan of a strategic base.

On the Defensive: 1943-1944

  • Island Hopping Campaign: The strategy employed by the Allies to gradually win back territory from Japan through targeted assaults on key islands.
  • Leyte Gulf (October 1944): The largest naval battle in history, which ended in a decisive Allied victory and marked the beginning of the end for Japan.

End of War: 1945

  • Iwo Jima and Okinawa battles (1945): These demonstrated the ferocity of resistance the Allies would face in a potential invasion of mainland Japan.
  • Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 1945): The US dropped two atomic bombs, leading to Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies, marking the end of World War II.

Key Concepts

  • Pearl Harbor: This was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
  • Island Hopping: This strategy involved selectively attacking specific enemy-held islands and bypassing others.
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki: These two cities were the targets of the first-ever use of atomic weapons in warfare, leading to Japan’s surrender in World War II.