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World War II and the Far East

Kaushik Roy

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0007
World War II and the Far East

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The Japanese Blitzkrieg started on 7/8 December 1941. While the US Pacific Fleet was bombed at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese started landings at Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. Singapore surrendered on 15 February 1942. By 8 March, the Japanese had occupied Rangoon, and British and Indian soldiers retreated into eastern India. By April, Japan had achieved the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. After being worsted in Midway (June 1942), the Japanese were not in a position to make any offensive move in the Far East. 1943 was a year of stalemate. In February and March 1944, the Japanese launched two offensives at Arakan and in northeast India. The revitalized Commonwealth forces in India inflicted the greatest land defeat on the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). By mid-1944, the Japanese were in full retreat. The dropping of atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war on 15 August. This essay does not take into account the Pacific theater, where mainly US forces fought the Japanese. Here the objective is to analyze to what extent Japanese success in mainland Asia during the first half of the war was the result of Japanese superiority, or of the inferiority of the Allied forces, and to what extent the success of the Allied forces from 1944 on was the product of materialschlacht— the application of superior firepower and aggressive small unit tactics. Further, the importance of Chindits and American assistance to the Kuomintang within the broader context of the Allied policy of defeating Japan is also assessed. Finally, the contributions of the Asians who were hitherto subject peoples of the Western maritime powers, and the impact of the war on them, are also noted.

Article.  10602 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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