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This is a very in depth question to which a short, simple answer is attempted here.

Japan was involved with a war on the Chinese mainland. A US embargo of sales of strategic materials to Japan threatened the Japanese economy. The Japanese felt that the US was trying to stop their military activity by curtailing the resources they critically needed. This led to Japan looking to conquer areas containing strategic raw materials to make itself self sufficient.

The European powers, UK, France, Belgium, etc. held as colonies those regions it would need to obtain this independence. They were involved in the European War and would not be able to oppose Japanese takeover of their Pacific and far eastern colonies.

The US, however, was a major military power not yet engaged in war, and with substantial interests in the region, including the Philippine Islands, then scheduled to receive independence from the US in 1946.

The decision was made to preempt US involvement by making key strategic strikes at the US bases in the Pacific as part of the makeover of European colonies.

As for how it affected the European War, the Axis never tried to coordinate their actions as the Allies did. The primary impact on the European war was that the US became a belligerent there as well as against Japan. If Japan had not attacked the US, it is possible that any US involvement in the European war would have been delayed so long as to lead to the fall of England and perhaps a peace with the Soviet Union.

If the Axis had coordinated, things might have turned out differently. If Japan had attacked the Soviet Union, key resources that Stalin released to stop the German drive on Moscow would not have been available. "Germany first" was the decision of the Allies once the US became an active participant.

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โˆ™ 2013-03-05 03:34:16
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