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War in the Pacific

Initial Japanese attack

The goals were:
To take total control of the Pacific
Become economically self dependant
Expand empire
The Japanese plan was to:
Cripple the US fleet
Seize and defend the Pacific Islands
Isolate Australia and New Zealand

Turning Tides
Up until mid 1942, Japan held the
upper hand by holding vast amounts
of territory
Instead of focusing on defence, Japan
opted to push their territory further
into the US side of the Pacific
Allied code breakers discovered an
attack and were able to prepare

Battle of the Coral Sea

A Japanese plan to attack on Port
Moresby would have isolated
An American-Australian defence
gathered in Coral Sea
While the Allied losses were greater,
the Japanese were not able to
replace ships and personnel fast

Battle of Midway
One month after the Battle of Coral
Sea, Japan attacked Midway to gain
total control of the Pacific
30 US planes were able to drive the
Japanese fleet out of formation which
then allowed bombers to deal fatal
Japan lost 4 aircraft carriers and
many highly trained personnel

After the losses in Coral Sea and
Midway, Japan was forced to be one
the defensive
Japan was not able to push into
western China due to resistance;
attempts at puppet government
In India, forces were able to stop
further expansion

Allied Counter-Offensive
An allied counter offensive began in
1943 where they slowly pushed to
regain control of the Pacific
After Midway, the US was able to
build ships and other war machines
whereas Japan could not
The US started to retake control of
island bases in the Pacific

Island Hopping
Japan had hoped for an all out battle
but the US avoided the Japanese
The US engaged in submarine
warfare to deny oil to Japan, which
left its fleet stranded
Island hopping was termed from how
every island was fought over
The US wanted to secure islands
close to Japan to launch a homeland

Battle of Saipan
The Battle of Saipan was the greatest
naval battle so far with over 500
ships and 1000 planes
90% of the Japanese fleet was called
to stop the US invasion of Saipan
Superior strategy from the US led to
an overwhelming victory
Japan lost all their aircraft carriers

Battle of Leyte Gulf

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the
biggest naval battle in history, taking
place around the Philippine island of
A lack of coordination on the
Japanese fleet as well as greater
numbers on the US fleet led to allied
Japanese naval power was cripped

Iwo Jima
The US wanted to capture Iwo Jima
and use it as a base to launch
airstrikes on Japan itself
Japan knew they could not win but
fought to the last man
A strategy of hiding underground and
in bunkers was devastating for US
America won with heavy losses

The Battle of Okinawa is nicknamed
as "typhoon of steel for its ferocity
US objective was to capture island in
preparation for invasion of Japan

Naval Battle
Japan relied on kamikaze (suicide)
attacks to maximize damage on the
US fleet
10 Japanese ships led by their
flagship, the super battleship
Yamato, were sunk with minimal
allied casualties
The Japanese navy was effectively
destroyed at this point

Land Battle
The land battle at Okinawa lasted 81
days and resulted in huge amounts
of casualties on both sides, 80,000
American, 110,000 Japanese
The Japanese used guerrilla tactics to
last as long as possible
The military urged civilians to
commit suicide becoming a mass

Historian Victor Hanson argues that

because of the Battle of Okinawa:
American strategists looked for an
alternative means to subdue mainland
Japan, other than a direct invasion

Operation Downfall
Operation Downfall was the codename for
the planned invasion of the Japanese
Japanese kamikaze planes made casualty
rates too high for the US
From the Battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima,
the US feared Japanese resistance
Allied casualties were estimated to be
600,000 from a direct invasion and
Japanese casualties to be at 7,000,000
Alternatives had to be considered

Atomic Bombs
Even after air raids on major cities, Japan
refused surrender
Japan was rearming its ground troops in
preparation for an attack
An Allied invasion was decided to be to costly
and nuclear weapons were the solution
Kokura, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Niigata and
Kyoto were considered as potential targets
These cities were left untouched by firebombs

August 6, 1945, Little Boy was
dropped on Hiroshima

80,000 died immediately while another 70,000
died from radiation
Japan still refused surrender until 4 terms are met
1. the preservation of the Imperial institution
2. assumption by the Imperial Headquarters of
responsibility for disarmament and demobilization,
3. no occupation of the Japanese Home Islands,
Korea, or Formosa
4.delegation of the punishment of war criminals to
the Japanese government

Japan decided to endure the
remaining attack
On, August 9 Fat Man was planned to
be dropped on Kokura, but low
visibility caused the pilots to reroute
to Nagasaki
Estimated immediate death toll to be
Japan surrendered on August 14 with
the condition that they Emperor

Historians to this day debate over
the controversies the atomic
Historian Richard B. Frank argues
that the nuclear bombings were
necessary, as Japan would not have
surrendered otherwise
Gabriel Kolko believes the use of
nuclear weapons to be unmoral and
a war crime