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Japan had been at war with China since 1931 when it invaded the Chinese provinces of Manchuria. However, in 1941 Japan attacked US and European possessions in the Pacific. This expanded the conflict to the Pacific region involving the US and its allies.

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Japan enters WWII
Instead of closing their factories, the
fascist Japanese government chose
to invade China.

Before World War II, Japan exported all their goods—mostly silk, a luxury item. When the Great Depression began, luxuries were given up, leaving Japan unable to fuel her factories. To stop the depression, the Japanese had the choice of closing their factories or invading China for more resources. At this time, Japan's government - consisting of an emperor (Emperor Hirohito) and a parliament (known as a diet) - was slowly turning fascist. This allowed the military and factory owners to have more influence over the country's decisions. So, of course, Japan chose to invade China.


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China Alliance
Chiang Kai Shek was forced to form
an uneasy alliance with Mao Zedong
for the sake of his country.

Meanwhile, the Chinese leader Chiang Kai Shek was in the middle of a civil war against the Communist forces led by Mao Zedong. This made China weaker and an easy target for the Japanese army. Eventually, the two joined together to liberate their country from foreign rule, only to renew the civil war after the Pacific War ended.






Emperor Hirohito
Emperor Hirohito

In the meantime, the Japanese military were in charge of the government and politicians speaking out against further military action were assassinated. With control of the government and, basically, the entire country, the Japanese army drove Japan deeper and deeper into the Pacific War.


Books on World War II

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  • Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan by Ronald H. Spector
  • At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. Prange
  • The Pacific War Encyclopedia by Albert A. Nofi
  • Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific by Eric M. Bergerud
  • The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945 by John Toland


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