In 1937, Japan had full control over Manchuria and was planning to conquer China. The Chinese suspended their civil war and formed an alliance to fight against the Japanese after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The Chinese troop received help from Soviet Union. Japanese were victorious in Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan but the Panay Incident was strongly condemned, especially by the United States. Japanese forces were stopped from spreading to the North by combined forces of Soviet and Mongolian forces. Japanese forces blocked Chinese connection to the outside world and then formed an alliance with Germany and Italy, to form the ‘Axis Powers. To stop Japanese, western powers: Australia, US, Britain, and Dutch stopped selling iron ore, steel and oil to Japan. Japan wanted to fight back but knew that the US had a very strong in economy and military, so they planned to make a peace treaty with the US after some initial victories. (Sivers, Desnoyers and Stow 2012)
Asia Pacific War:
The war in Asia and Pacific, also called the Asia-Pacific War, started because Japan wanted to have supplies of raw materials which were required for the expansion of its industries. This war was fought in the Pacific Oceans and islands, South West Pacific, South-East Asia and in China in December 1941. Japan attacked Thailand and then proceeded towards British areas of Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The military bases of United States in Hawaii and Philippines were also attacked by Japan. (Sivers, Desnoyers and Stow 2012)
Japan had recent war experience and USA, and UK army was unprepared, so Japan got victory in the beginning. At the time when war broke out, British were stressed, and the forces of U.S. were mostly present in North America, so it was the best time for Japan to invade. On 7th December, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor without prior warning. The Japanese thought that if they would take them out by surprise, US would negotiate and will resume the supply of raw material. But this did not happen and instead US, UK, Canada and Netherland joined and declared war on Japan. 188 aircrafts were destroyed, and 2,403 citizens died. Japan got success after the attack on Pearl Harbor and conquered Philippines, Hong Kong, Malay, Singapore and Burma. It was till the mid of 1942 that Japan’s success was halted by Australian and New Zealand forces in New Guinea and British forces in India. (Sivers, Desnoyers and Stow 2012)
Allied victory over Japan:
The American naval victory in the battle of midway, June 1942, was a turning point in Pacific War. The Japanese army turned back and in the august attack on Solomon Islands by US further forced japan to retreat. Allied forces gained naval and air advantage in Pacific and traced Japanese from island to island. Japan was able to hold its position in China only. In 1965, an atomic bomb was dropped on Japanese city, Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki, killing thousands of people. Japan ultimately lost because its economy was less than 10% of the Americans. Japanese surrendered after this on 2nd September, 1945. (Sivers, Desnoyers and Stow 2012)
Reasons for failure:
Japan had very few resources like oil and iron. It was difficult for the Japanese army to replace capital ships, and after Leyty Gulf had left, the empirical navy ceased to exist. The submarines of U.S. played a great role in the war. They transported the raiding forces, saved stranded pilots and traced the naval units of Japanese. Their strategic role was most important in all. By sinking all the ships, Japanese home islands were cut off. The submarines of US army contributed to 1.6%of all the ships in the war and were successful in sinking 51% of Japanese tonnage in the war. All this happened after resolution of US torpedo problems, that is, in the last two years. Finally, after being attacked by the atomic bomb, Japan surrendered to US, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union in 1945.
Von Sivers, Peter, Charles Desnoyers, and George B Stow. Patterns Of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.