Japanese Defeat in World War II

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After years of war with the United States, Japan officially surrendered on August 14, 1945 after the United States launched atomic bombs about the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese surrender ended the Second World War after six years of conflict across the planet.


The confrontation between the United States and Japan began when Japan carried out the surprise attack on the US naval base in pearl harbor, located in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The attack began a brief period of Japanese territorial expansion into regions of Southeast Asia. Between December 1941 and June 1942, Japan had conquered Malaysia, Burma, Singapore, the Dutch West Indies (now Indonesia), the Philippines, and so on.

This first moment made evident the unpreparedness of the armies allies in Asia and positions in the Pacific Ocean. It is important to remember that, in mid-1942, the Allies were formed by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom (which had the support of their imperial troops). The Asian war scenario also featured the participation of Australian and New Zealand troops.

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The quick victories achieved in Southeast Asia and the control of important parts of China gave the fuel that inflated the japanese nationalism and the belief in victory. However, part of the Japanese summit knew that a long-term war against the United States it would be disastrous, as Japan's economic and industrial capacity was much lower than the North-American.

The Japanese defeat was something built over years of war and started in 1942, during the Midway Battle. This battle between the Japanese Imperial Navy and the American Navy was considered by the Americans to be one of the main moments of the war in Asia. The Midway Islands are small islands located about 4,000 kilometers from Japan. His conquest was important because it would allow Japan to disrupt Allied supply routes in Australia.

What Japan did not expect was that US intelligence would know about the Japanese attack on Midway. This made the result of Midway disastrous for Japan, as four of its aircraft carriers were sunk: Kaga, Soryu, Akagi and Hiryu. The losses of the Japanese Navy in this battle were so great that Japanese industry was never able to fill the gaps from that moment on.

The war for Japan after the defeat at Midway

What happened at Midway was essential to the war's outcome because it marked the turning point in America. In 1943 and 1944, Japan racked up defeats in different parts of Asia. However, every Japanese defeat was won at a very high price by the United States. The Japanese resistance was stubborn and they generally fought to the last man in their defensive positions.

In 1944, the Japanese situation was extremely delicate, because, in addition to the defeats in the battles, the maritime inferiority affected the supply of Japan. As an island with few resources, all Japanese supplies in the war against the United States came from what the occupied territories (China and Southeast Asia) produced. All this production was sent to Japan by sea. As the United States imposed a large maritime dominance, the Japanese supply was severely affected as that more ships were sunk, according to Max Hastings' account of the role of American submarines in the war:

American submarines were responsible for 55 percent of all Japanese maritime losses during the war, which totaled 1,300 vessels and more than six million tons; the climax of its destructive feat came in October 1944, when 322,265 tons of ships sank. After that, Japanese losses diminished because there was little tonnage left to sink; Japanese imports fell 40% |1|.

Japan in 1945

American soldiers attacking Japan's defensive positions in Okinawa in 1945
American soldiers attacking Japan's defensive positions in Okinawa in 1945

In 1945, the siege of Japan was completely closed. Many pockets of Japanese resistance existed in different parts of Asia, but the United States turned to the main objective: japan invasion.

On February 19, 1945, the attack on Iwo Jima, an island about 1,200 kilometers from the main island. About 30,000 soldiers were sent to take Iwo Jima. The Japanese resistance – as expected – was well positioned and held out until March 27th. The takeover of Iwo Jima to the United States cost about 24,000 casualties, including deaths and injuries. The conquest of Iwo Jima was disputed by some historians, who saw no strategic importance in the conquest of the island.

Other important actions of the 1945 war against Japan were: the incendiary bombing of large Japanese cities and the seizure of the okinawa island. Incendiary bombing raids carried out by B-29 planes severely punished Japan: an estimated bombing of Tokyo in 1945 resulted in 100,000 deaths.

THE conquest of okinawa it mobilized about 170,000 American soldiers to invade the island, which had about 150,000 inhabitants. The Japanese defense in Okinawa has not positioned itself close to the beaches to avoid attacking American ships. With the Japanese resistance located in the south of the island, an almost insurmountable pocket of resistance was created. On June 22, the Japanese resistance was officially defeated after nearly three months of fighting and some 12,000 dead and 50,000 wounded by the US army.

the end of the war

The stubborn resistance of the Japanese armies, in addition to having been obtained after years of indoctrinating the Japanese population, was part of the fighting strategy of the Japanese top. The Japanese leadership believed that if Japan imposed too high a cost on American achievements, the states The United States could agree to negotiate an end to the war and guarantee Japan control of its colonial possessions in China and Korea.

However, the United States had another strategy to end the war: atomic bombs. Since 1941 the United States produced atomic bombs in theManhattan Project. In 1945, about 125,000 people were working at full speed to complete the production of weapons. The project had a partnership with the United Kingdom.

The use of atomic bombs was a result of the American unwillingness to invade the Japanese island, as it would result in thousands of deaths of American soldiers. In addition, there was the possibility that the war against Japan would drag on for many months and this was considered disastrous by the American leadership.

With Japan's refusal to surrender, the United States used its atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. The attacks brought about the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945. On September 2, 1945, Japan's surrender was made official with the signing of the surrender document on the battleship Missouri.

|1| HASTINGS, Max. The world at war 1939-1945. Rio de Janeiro: Intrinsic, 2012, p. 579.

By Daniel Neves
Graduated in History

Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/historiag/derrota-japonesa-na-segunda-guerra-mundial.htm


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