World War II left many powerful nations in smoke and rubble. The deconstruction of many countries gave them the chance to rebuild their cities and economies. No country took more advantage of this opportunity than Japan. Japan was a huge militaristic power in World War II . Their aggressive behavior caused them to be stripped of their military and their power for self rule. The demilitarization of Japan changed the country's focus from world militaristic domination to world economic domination. The country established free trade, manufactured goods, and improved and invented technology, making themselves one of the largest economic superpowers in the world.
World War II exploded across Europe and the rest of the world in 1939. Germany and Japan had united to take over Europe, Russia, and the Pacific islands. The focus of the Japanese was to conquer China. Conquering the mighty country was not as easy as they expected and they needed more resources as the war dragged on. Japan turned its focus to the Pacific Islands for resources for their war with China. There was a barrier that stood between Japan and those resources they needed: the United States Navy. Admiral Isoroku Yamatmoto of the Japanese Navy stated that, "The U.S. fleet in Hawaii is a dagger pointed at our throat and must be destroyed" (Beck et al p.827).
Early in the morning of December 7, 1941 American sailors at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, awoke to the roar of explosives (Beck et al p.827). Within two hours the Japanese had sunk or damaged 18 ships, including eight battleships - nearly the whole U.S. pacific fleet. Some 2,400 Americans died, more than 1,000 were wounded (Beck et al p.827). The news of the attack shocked America. The day after President Roosevelt announced to Congress and the world that the United States had declared war on Japan.
After the attack of Pearl Harbor President Roosevelt stopped sending oil to Japan. The U.S. and Japan played tug-of-war for four years until the United States had had enough. Newly elected President Harry Truman warned the Japanese. He told them if they did not surrender they could expect a "rain of ruin from the air" (Beck et al p. 841). The United States heard no response from the Japanese. On August 6, 1945 the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (Beck et al p.841). A Japanese journalist describes the terror:
Within a few seconds the thousands of people in the streets and the
gardens in the center of town were scorched by searing heat. Many
were killed; others lay withering on the ground, screaming in agony
from the intolerable pain of their burns. Everything standing upright in
the way of the blast, wall, houses, factories, and other buildings, was
annihilated (Beck et al p.841).
That day 73,000 of 365,000 died in the city of Hiroshima (Samurai and Swastika). Three days after Hiroshima the U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb over Japan. This time the bomb dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The bomb killed 37,500 instantly; the radiation later killed more. The two bombs devastated Japan.
The nation of Japan was torn between wanting to continue the war and wanting to surrender. The Japanese government finally agreed to the surrender terms from the United States. The Japanese Emperor urged the Japanese to lay down their weapons. They surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur of the United States on September 2, 1945. The surrender took place aboard the United States battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay (Beck et al p.841). The surrender was first signed by the Japanese foreign minister and then by General Umezu Yoshijiro. The surrender concluded with a separate surrender with China in Nanking on September 9, 1945 (Britannica). This final surrender ended World War II.
In the surrender with the United States, Japan agreed to demilitarization. This meant that they could have no military or law enforcement; the U.S. would now protect Japan. The...
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Samurai and Swastika, The, videotape, History Channel, Date of Viewing 2-25-00.
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