Pacific War

Pacific War
Part of the Second World War
Map indicating US landings during the Pacific War
Map showing the main areas of the conflict and Allied landings in the Pacific, 1942–45
Date
7 December 1941 – 2 September 1945
(3 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
Location
Result

Allied victory

Territorial
changes

Allied occupation of Japan

Belligerents
Major Allies:
 United States
 China[a]
 British Empire
See section Participants for further details.
Major Axis:
 Japan
See section Participants for further details.
Commanders and leaders
Main Allied leaders
Franklin D. Roosevelt[b]
Chiang Kai-shek
Winston Churchill[c]
Main Axis leaders
Hirohito
Hideki Tōjō[d]
Casualties and losses
  • Military
    4,000,000+ dead (1937–45)
  • Civilian deaths
    26,000,000+ (1937–45)[e]
  • Military
    2,500,000+ dead
  • Civilian deaths
    1,000,000+[f]

The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War,[12] was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean theatre, the South West Pacific theatre, the South-East Asian theatre, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Soviet–Japanese War.

The Second Sino-Japanese War between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China had been in progress since 7 July 1937, with hostilities dating back as far as 19 September 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.[13] However, it is more widely accepted[g][15] that the Pacific War itself began on 7/8 December 1941, when the Japanese invaded Thailand and attacked the British colonies of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong as well as the United States military and naval bases in Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines.[16][17][18]

The Pacific War saw the Allies pitted against Japan, the latter aided by Thailand and to a lesser extent by the Axis allied Germany and Italy. The war culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other large aerial bomb attacks by the Allies, accompanied by the Soviet Union's declaration of war and invasion of Manchuria and other territories on 9 August 1945, resulting in the Japanese announcement of intent to surrender on 15 August 1945. The formal surrender of Japan ceremony took place aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. After the war, Japan lost all rights and titles to its former possessions in Asia and the Pacific, and its sovereignty was limited to the four main home islands and other minor islands as determined by the Allies.[19] Japan's Shinto Emperor relinquished much of his authority and his divine status through the Shinto Directive in order to pave the way for extensive cultural and political reforms.[20]

Overview

The Pacific War Council as photographed on 12 October 1942. Pictured are representatives from the United States (seated), the Philippine Commonwealth, China, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand

Names for the war

In Allied countries during the war, the "Pacific War" was not usually distinguished from World War II in general, or was known simply as the War against Japan. In the United States, the term Pacific Theater was widely used, although this was a misnomer in relation to the Allied campaign in Burma, the war in China and other activities within the Southeast Asian Theater. However, the US Armed Forces considered the China-Burma-India Theater to be distinct from the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during the conflict.

Japan used the name Greater East Asia War (大東亜戦争, Dai Tō-A Sensō), as chosen by a cabinet decision on 10 December 1941, to refer to both the war with the Western Allies and the ongoing war in China. This name was released to the public on 12 December, with an explanation that it involved Asian nations achieving their independence from the Western powers through armed forces of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.[21] Japanese officials integrated what they called the Japan–China Incident (日支事変, Nisshi Jihen) into the Greater East Asia War.

During the Allied military occupation of Japan (1945–52), these Japanese terms were prohibited in official documents, although their informal usage continued, and the war became officially known as the Pacific War (太平洋戦争, Taiheiyō Sensō). In Japan, the Fifteen Years' War (十五年戦争, Jūgonen Sensō) is also used, referring to the period from the Mukden Incident of 1931 through 1945.

Participants

Political map of the Asia-Pacific region, 1939

The Axis aligned states which assisted Japan included the authoritarian government of Thailand, which formed a cautious alliance with the Japanese in 1941, when Japanese forces issued the government with an ultimatum following the Japanese invasion of Thailand. The leader of Thailand, Plaek Phibunsongkhram, became greatly enthusiastic about the alliance after decisive Japanese victories in the Malayan campaign and in 1942 sent the Phayap Army to assist the invasion of Burma, where former Thai territory that had been annexed by Britain were reoccupied (Occupied Malayan regions were similarly reintegrated into Thailand in 1943). The Allies supported and organized an underground anti-Japanese resistance group, known as the Free Thai Movement, after the Thai ambassador to the United States had refused to hand over the declaration of war. Because of this, after the surrender in 1945, the stance of the United States was that Thailand should be treated as a puppet of Japan and be considered an occupied nation rather than as an ally. This was done in contrast to the British stance towards Thailand, who had faced them in combat as they invaded British territory, and the United States had to block British efforts to impose a punitive peace.[22]

Also involved were members of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which included the Manchukuo Imperial Army and Collaborationist Chinese Army of the Japanese puppet states of Manchukuo (consisting of most of Manchuria), and the collaborationist Wang Jingwei regime (which controlled the coastal regions of China), respectively. In the Burma campaign, other members, such as the anti-British Indian National Army of Free India and the Burma National Army of the State of Burma were active and fighting alongside their Japanese allies.

Moreover, Japan conscripted many soldiers from its colonies of Korea and Taiwan. Collaborationist security units were also formed in Hong Kong (reformed ex-colonial police), Singapore, the Philippines (also a member of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere), the Dutch East Indies (the PETA), British Malaya, British Borneo, former French Indochina (after the overthrow of the French regime in 1945 (the Vichy French had previously allowed the Japanese to use bases in French Indochina beginning in 1941, following an invasion) as well as Timorese militia. These units the assisted the Japanese war effort in their respective territories.

Germany and Italy both had limited involvement in the Pacific War. The German and the Italian navies operated submarines and raiding ships in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, notably the Monsun Gruppe. The Italians had access to concession territory naval bases in China which they utilized (and which was later ceded to collaborationist China by the Italian Social Republic in late 1943). After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declarations of war, both navies had access to Japanese naval facilities.

The major Allied participants were the United States and its colonies (including the Philippine Commonwealth, where a guerrilla war was waged after its conquest), China, which had already been engaged in bloody war against Japan since 1937 including both the KMT government National Revolutionary Army and CCP units, such as the guerrilla Eighth Route Army, New Fourth Army as well as smaller groups. The United Kingdom was also a major belligerent (mostly through colonial troops from the armed forces of India as well as from Burma, Malaya, Fiji, Tonga, etc., but also with large numbers of British troops). Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Dutch government-in-exile (as the possessor of the Dutch East Indies) were also involved, all of whom were members of the Pacific War Council.[23]

Mexico provided some air support in the form of the 201st Fighter Squadron and Free France sent naval support in the form of Le Triomphant and later the Richelieu. From 1944 the French commando group Corps Léger d'Intervention also took part in resistance operations in Indochina. French Indochinese forces faced Japanese forces in a coup in 1945. The commando corps continued to operate after the coup until liberation. Some active pro-allied guerrillas in Asia included the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army, the Korean Liberation Army, the Free Thai Movement and the Việt Minh.

The Soviet Union fought two short, undeclared border conflicts with Japan in 1938 and 1939, then remained neutral through the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact of April 1941, until August 1945 when it (and Mongolia) joined the rest of the Allies and invaded the territory of Manchukuo, China, Inner Mongolia, the Japanese protectorate of Korea and Japanese-claimed territory such as South Sakhalin.

Theaters

Between 1942 and 1945, there were four main areas of conflict in the Pacific War: China, the Central Pacific, South-East Asia and the South West Pacific. US sources refer to two theaters within the Pacific War: the Pacific theater and the China Burma India Theater (CBI). However these were not operational commands.

In the Pacific, the Allies divided operational control of their forces between two supreme commands, known as Pacific Ocean Areas and Southwest Pacific Area.[24] In 1945, for a brief period just before the Japanese surrender, the Soviet Union and Mongolia engaged Japanese forces in Manchuria and northeast China.

The Imperial Japanese Navy did not integrate its units into permanent theater commands. The Imperial Japanese Army, which had already created the Kwantung Army to oversee its occupation of Manchukuo and the China Expeditionary Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, created the Southern Expeditionary Army Group at the outset of its conquests of South East Asia. This headquarters controlled the bulk of the Japanese Army formations which opposed the Western Allies in the Pacific and South East Asia.

Other Languages
bosanski: Rat na Pacifiku
Deutsch: Pazifikkrieg
Esperanto: Pacifika Fronto
한국어: 태평양 전쟁
hrvatski: Rat na Pacifiku
Bahasa Indonesia: Perang Pasifik
Lëtzebuergesch: Pazifikkrich
Bahasa Melayu: Perang Pasifik
日本語: 太平洋戦争
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Tinch okeanidagi urush
slovenčina: Vojna v Pacifiku
slovenščina: Vojna za Tihi ocean
српски / srpski: Рат на Пацифику
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Rat na Pacifiku