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The great arc of Asia from China to Malasia to India was very rich in minerals, timber and oil. Various nations had fought to control the area for centuries.

By 1939 the area was split between three groups. First were the old colonial empires of Britain (India, Hong Kong, Malasia, Singapore), France (Vietnam, Laos), and the Netherlands (Java, Borneo, Sumatra). Second was the relative newcomer, USA (Philipines and various Pacific islands). Third was the other newcomer to empire building - Japan (Korea, parts of China, some Pacific islands).

The old line colonial empires had their hands full dealing with Germany in Europe and were unable to defend their possessions. As such these were easily grabbed by the Japanese in 1940, 1941 and 1942.

The USA had been expanding its influence in Asia for decades. The USA had annexed Hawaii around 1890. Quickly following this the USA picked a war with the weak, nearly defenseless Spanish empire and thus gained colonies in Guam, Wake and the Philippines. These colonies were used to expand American influence in China. However, Japan considered China within its sphere of influence and sought to limit American involvement.

Ultimately this (the conflict of American and Japanese interests in China) led to war. Strictly speaking the USA got together with Britain and the Netherland to freeze Japanese financial assets so that Japan would not be able to buy petroleum. The Japanese were thus forced to choose war or surrender. They chose to attack and thus the shooting war began December 1941.

The reason I give this extensive background is to show that the roots of the war ran deep. The Japanese attack on the USA should not have been considered a surprise. Likewise the Japanese should have realized that the various western nations were not going to give us their commercial interests and colonies in the area without a major fight. The Japanese were hopelessly outclassed in men, money, and machines by the combined forces arranged against them and as such, lost the war.

Following the war the western nations tried to put things back the way they were before the war......with no success whatsoever.

France suffered a horrific military disaster in Vietnam and had to abandon that colony. The British withdrew under pressure from Malasia, Burma and India within a couple of years - although they retained Hong Kong for another 50 years. The Dutch never had any hope of keeping populous Java and withdrew quickly leaving a political mess behind them. The USA gave nominal independence to the Philippines (retaining huge military bases) but then botched the Chinese situation for which they had gone to war in the first place. China, instead of becoming a USA ally, turned communist and became a partner with the Soviets and enemy of America. The USA had to fight two bloody wars (Korea and Vietnam) to stabilize the situation over the next thirty years. Japan, while the economy eventually recovered, was stripped of 100% of its colonies and none have been recovered to date.

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โˆ™ 2011-09-13 04:02:27
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Q: How and why did the Pacific War start in World War 2?
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