World War II: Pacific Theater Overview and Japanese Cruelty Essay

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World War II: Pacific Theater Overview and Japanese Cruelty

Starting in the early 1930’s, the Japanese began to display their great imperialistic dreams with ambition and aggression. Their goal was to create a "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" where they controlled a vast empire in the western Pacific.1 In September of 1939, Japan signed the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis Treaty, allying themselves with Germany and Italy in an effort to safeguard their interests in China from the Soviet Union. Japan’s only major obstacle left lay in the significant size of the United States Pacific Fleet. To rid themselves of this, Japan attacked the United States Pacific Fleet in hopes of crippling it enough to prevent any further hindrance from the
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Admiral Nagumo’s task was to incapacitate the US so Japan could win a war against them before American industry could come back and defeat Japan. Without the US fleet present, Japan could carry out its goal of establishing a sphere of influence free from heavy opposition.3 The mission was only a partial success because although all eight US battleships were damaged or sunk, the two US aircraft carriers present in the Pacific Ocean were not in Pearl Harbor that day. With these two capital ships, and various supporting ships, the US would defend itself from a total defeat until it could recuperate from its losses and wage an offensive that would crush the Japanese military. But, immediately following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan controlled the Pacific and conquered a few more territories before the US could rebuild its navy and fight back.4

After Pearl Harbor, Japan jumped on the Southern Resources region of Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies in the South Pacific where oil fields lay that would fuel Japan’s war machine. They later took the American occupied islands of Wake, Guam, and the Philippines. The Japanese Imperial Navy made several victories in the South Pacific against the much smaller American Asiatic Fleet,