Hitler started WW-II in 1939 making Axis Power with Italy and Japan. Italy occupied Africa, Germany, Europe except for England and Japan had to fight for their influence in Asia. But, the US sanctions made them paralyze to some extent.
Due to which they started planning the war on America. Till 1941, US troops were not in the actual war. They were just supplying military equipment to the Allies.
The US had a vast army with a very strong naval fleet and air force. To destroy the US, Japan had to destroy America’s army acquiring major US checkpoints.
The Pearl Harbour Attack
Japan started planning an attack on America in 1940. They found Pearl Harbour, a US Naval Base near Honolulu, Hawaii, an irresistibly easy target. It had its importance in the Pacific Ocean.
Japan started its army drills practicing for the attack. On 7th December 1941, Sunday, around 350 Japanese aircraft suddenly attacked Pearl Harbour making huge damage to The unaware US.
They attacked Pearl Harbour in two waves. Almost 2400 Americans died and more than 1000 got wounded. US Army also retaliated destroying around 25 Japanese planes. Around 20 US ships, 300 aircraft, and 8 battleships got destroyed. But Japan missed their primary targets i.e., Aircraft Carriers which was the major setback for them.
This gave the US no way other than retaliation and on 8th December 1941, US Congress approved Franklin D Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan jumping into WW-II. After three days Italy and Germany also declared war on America.
What happened after the Pearl Harbour Attack?
An unexpected and sudden attack of Japan on America shook the whole world. Japanese became more overconfident about their power and started planning another brutal attack on the US who was already been in remission after Pearl Harbour.
This time Japan planned to take total control of the Pacific influence of the US by taking Midway as their new target. Midway was another major naval base of America lying just in the middle of the US and Japan above Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Isoroku Yamamoto, Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, took charge of this attack.
But, The US cryptanalysts had begun breaking Japanese communication codes early in 1942 and knew for weeks ahead of time that Japan was planning an attack in the Pacific at a location they called “AF”.
With Japan’s fleet so widely dispersed, Yamamoto had to transmit all strategy over the radio, enabling Navy cryptanalysts based in Hawaii to figure out when Japan planned to attack (4 and 5 June 1942) and the planned order of battle of the Imperial Japanese navy. Yamamoto planned to attack the Midway in three phases
- Phase-I: Attack Midway with full force.
- Phase-II: After the destruction, deploy Japanese troops in Midway.
- Phase-III: Reserved fleet when the US retaliates.
Also, to distract American Navy, they planned a diversionary attack on the Aleutian Islands in the Northern Pacific just the day before the attack on Midway, i.e., on June 3, 1942.
Battle of Midway
The D-Day came. Japan marched the Pacific with its most powerful aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga along with the small and speedy Soryu and Hiryu. But with the pre-information of the attack, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet was already prepared for the invasion on both the islands.
The US secretly walled itself with a strong fleet and warheads to counter the attack. After the diversionary attack on the Aleutian Islands on June 3, a pre-prepared group of US B-17 Flying Fortress bombers flew from Midway to counter the invasion by destroying Japanese carriers whose location was still unknown to them which made the B-17 attack unsuccessful.
Before dawn the next day, more B-17 left Midway for the second attack on the Japanese invasion force, also unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Chuichi Nagumo, Japanese Admiral, launched the first phase of Japan’s attack as planned, sending 108 Japanese warplanes from the aircraft carriers to strike Midway.
Shortly after that Japanese pilots informed Nagumo that they need another attack on Midway as the first air attack was not that destructing. When Nagumo was rearming Japanese planes for the second attack, a wave of US Devastator torpedo bombers from the US carriers Hornet and Enterprise arrived to attack the Japanese ships.
As the Japanese refueled and rearmed their planes, another wave of US carrier-launched bombers struck hitting three Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu.
Though major combat in the Battle of Midway was over by the evening of June 4, US troops at sea and on Midway Island continued their attacks on the Japanese fleet over the next two days.
The US Hammann sank in minutes; the US Yorktown eventually capsized and sank the following day. Japan’s last carrier Hiryu was also spotted and destroyed by the American troops. On June 6, Yamamoto, frightened of more damage, ordered his ships to retreat ending the Battle of Midway.
Japan lost around 3500 men including around 200 most experienced pilots, 4 most important carriers, and around 300 aircraft. And on the other hand, the US also lost around 360 men, 145 aircraft, the Yorktown and Hammann.
Impact of Midway’s Failure
As a result of the US victory in the Battle of Midway, Japan abandoned its plan to expand its reach in the Pacific and would remain on the defensive mode for the remainder of World War II. The drained Japanese morale turned the tide of the war in The Pacific strongly in favor of the Allies.
End of World War II
After Japan’s setback, the Allies strongly bumped into the Axis Powers. They intruded on Germany which made Hitler realizes that his end is near. He committed suicide on 30th April 1945, inside his bunker and Germany withdrew from WW-II.
Italy also lost their control in the African region making them surrender too. But, on the other hand, Japan was not in the mood of surrendering which made Allies think about how they are going to end the war containing further holocaust.
In July 1945, the Allies asked Japan to surrender to which they refused. This made Britain and America jointly decide to hit Japan with the Nuclear weapon.
On 6th August 1945, the US dropped 1st nuclear bomb on Hiroshima killing more than Seventy Thousand people, mostly civilians. Allies again asked Japan to withdraw from the war to which they didn’t respond and at the same time soviets also declared war on Japan.
On 9th August 1945, the US dropped another nuclear bomb on Nagasaki killing almost Seventy-Five Thousand people. Finally, Japan signed an unconditional withdrew from World War II to Allies on 15th August 1945.
Foe to Friend
The Nuclear Bombing of Japan shook the world. Almost 150 Thousand people got massacred. The US realized his mistake soon. They decided to help Japan rebuilt. From 1945 till Japan’s independence in 1952, the US-occupied and rebuilt the country with a heavy emphasis on growth and stability.
America promoted new deal policies to help the economy. They pushed for labor rights and unions and also pruned the monopolies and overhauled the education system. They freely shared technologies pushing Japan into eventually becoming a manufacturing giant. America introduced a new democracy and a new constitution.
With their significant financial support, they bounced Japan into one of the biggest economically reviving country in history. Japan became the 5th largest economy and 5th largest exporter in the world.
Now, US-Japan has become strong economic partners. Additionally, the two countries share a Mutual Security Assistance Pact, which was signed by Japanese PM Yoshida in 1951, California. This essentially says that both countries will militarily defend each other from any foreign attack.
These efforts in addition to lessened tensions as subsequent generations have shifted their priorities, have led to a close and complementary relationship between the two countries.