World War II was a bloody world war that involved multiple nations and multiple actors, but in this Research Paper, I will be discussing the role of Japan in WWII as well as the short term and long term consequences of said role.
Today Japan and the United States are close allies, but from 1941 and 1945, they fought a bitter and bloody war-Why did they fight this war? The answer to that question, from the American perspective is simple: the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The Americans were angry at the Japanese for their invasions of first Manchuria (1931), then China (1937), and later French Indochina (1940). After the Japanese moved into Indochina, President Roosevelt ordered a trade ...view middle of the document...
Roosevelt hoped that this economic pressure would force Japan to end its military expansion in East Asia.
The Japanese military saw another solution to the problem: if it could swiftly occupy the British and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia and gain complete control of the oil, rubber, and other raw materials it needed, then it could defend its interests in China and Indochina against those Europeans who were in a brutal war against Germany and Italy. The only force that was capable of stopping the Japanese was the American Pacific fleet — which was conveniently gathered close to Japan at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Knowing that many Americans did not want to fight a war against Japan, the military thought that if it suddenly destroyed the U.S. fleet, America would simply give up and allow Japan to consolidate its grasp on East Asia.
Japan was not militarily or economically powerful enough to fight a long war against the United States, and the Japanese military leadership was well aware of this. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a huge that, at first, seemed successful, in the long-run, however, the gamble was unsuccessful because the Japanese were wrong about how the Americans would react.
Behind this mistake was another miscalculation. Ever since Commodore Perry's fleet opened Japan in 1853, in an era of great colonial expansion, the Japanese had watched the European powers dominate East Asia and establish colonies and trading privileges. China, Japan's neighbor, was carved by Western powers in their hunger to establish solid spheres of influence on Chinese territory. Eventually, Japan was able to develop the economic and military strength to compete for dominance of mainland Asia. Japan defeated China in 1895 and Russia in 1905, in battles over who should dominate Korea. Japan joined the allies against Germany in 1914-18 in a struggle to control a portion of China and then conquered Manchuria in 1931 in an effort to secure a land area rich in raw materials. The Japanese nation and its military, which controlled the government by the 1930s, felt that it then could, and should, control all of East Asia by military force.
Japan's military invasions of other Asian countries, however, brought resistance from not only the European colonial powers, but also the Asian people themselves, and finally, the United States. The Japanese military tried to convince the Japanese people that complete loyalty and obedience would make Japan invincible. Japan's early victories seemed to prove this, but the U.S. victory at Midway Island in June 1942 led to the steady encirclement of the Japanese islands, cutting them off from needed supplies of raw materials. The Japanese navy was destroyed. When this was followed by massive bombardment from the air and the final blow of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese invincibility was proven to be a myth. At the end of the war, the Japanese nation was left starving and devastated by the bombing.