What if Japan invaded the United States?
The war in the Pacific
The initial success of the Japanese army in the Pacific theater of war was based on high operational capability, good planning and, above all, the element of surprise, while at the same time the American arms industry was unprepared and the Allied colonial powers were largely tied to the European theater of war with their military capacities. At the same time as the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded Thailand and the Malay Peninsula. Most of the Philippines could be conquered by April 1942. In the spring, Japanese troops advanced into British Burma, and by May Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies and large parts of the island of New Guinea. In mid-1942 the Japanese army controlled large areas of Southeast Asia and advanced towards Australia.
But in June 1942 the Japanese advance stalled with the lost battle for the Midway Islands, in which the Japanese navy lost four aircraft carriers. The Japanese army, forced on the defensive, then concentrated on consolidating its positions in the conquered areas of Southeast Asia in order to prevent any further advance of the Allied forces. Together with Australian units, the US Army began several offensives in New Guinea in August 1942. After conquering the central and western Solomon Islands, the Japanese defenses in the southwest and central Pacific were on the verge of collapse.
At the Tehran Conference in November 1943, the Western Allies urged the Soviet Union to go to war against Japan and open a second front in Manchuria. Josef Stalin promised to declare war on Japan within three months of a victory against the Nazi regime. But the sustained neutrality between the Soviet Union and the Japanese Empire relieved neither the Western Allies in the Pacific nor Germany in the European theater of war.
In May 1944, US and Australian troops ended the Japanese occupation of New Guinea. With the Marshall Islands as a starting point, the US Army began conquering the strategically important Mariana Islands in June. From there, the main Japanese islands were within range of the American long-range bombers. From then on, the Allied bombers inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese war industry. American incendiary bombs caused fatal damage due to the narrow construction of Japanese cities and the widespread wooden houses. In October 1944, the US fleet opened the battle for the Philippines. Although Japan used the suicide pilots known as kamikaze ("divine wind") for the first time in the greatest naval battle of World War II, it suffered heavy losses: the US Navy sank 4 aircraft carriers, 46 other combat ships and 48 supply ships. Since the Allied offensives in mid-1944, there was no longer any prospect of victory for the German Empire. The Japanese home islands had been suffering from famine for months. The Japanese war and merchant fleet could not provide enough ships or fuel to supply the troops and the civilian population.
While the United States recognized that Japan had been pushed back decisively on all fronts by mid-1944 and that the Japanese armaments industry could not keep up with the overwhelming odds of the USA, the Western Allies carried out the successful landing in Normandy in June 1944 and opened the long of Stalin called for a second front on mainland Europe against the Nazi regime.
With the conquest of the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the spring of 1945, the United States prepared for the invasion of the main Japanese islands. The battle for Okinawa saw the largest kamikaze attack of the war. More than 2,500 young Japanese pilots lost their lives on kamikaze missions throughout the war without being able to prevent the American advance. On July 26, 1945, the Allies called on the Japanese Empire to surrender unconditionally. After the leadership in Tokyo refused, the US Army destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs on August 6 and 9. In Hiroshima around 140,000 and in Nagasaki around 75,000 people died immediately. Tens of thousands died decades later as a result of their injuries or from nuclear radiation.
The entry into the war against Japan by the Soviet Union, declared on August 8, had no significant impact on the course of the war. Due to the dire supply situation on the home islands and the devastating destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese leadership decided to surrender. On August 16, the Japanese government called on its troops to drop their weapons. On September 2, 1945, the surrender of Japan was signed by Foreign Minister Shigemitsu Mamoru (1887-1957) and Chief of Staff Umezu Yoshijirô (1882-1949) on the US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Japan lost around 1.7 million soldiers and 350,000 civilians in the wars since 1937. China suffered more than 13 million victims in the war against Japan and in the parallel civil war between nationalists and communists. The number of dead Allied soldiers in the Pacific War was over 200,000 men.
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