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On December 7, 1941, Imperial Japanese forces launched an attack on the United States Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which marked the beginning of the Pacific War. The Pacific theater and the European theater were the two major territories where the events of the Second World War took place. The Pacific covered a large portion of the Pacific Ocean, East Asia, and Southeast Asia, involving Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines in various significant engagements during WWII.
See the fact file below for more information on the Pacific War or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Pacific War worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
LEADING UP TO THE PACIFIC WAR
- Before the eventual start of the Pacific War, Imperial Japan was already trying to establish its world power. However, Japan was a relatively small island country, which pushed them to import natural resources.
- With the invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the Japanese empire had been adamant in pursuing its expansion in East Asia. Following this, Japan launched a brutal attack against China in 1937.
- On September 27, 1940, Japan joined the military alliance known as the Axis Powers after signing the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy.
- As the Japanese forces continued to assert its military power in the Pacific region, the United States responded by imposing economic sanctions over Japan, which caused shortages of oil and other natural resources in the imperial country.
- However, with an ambitious desire to conquer other countries in the Pacific region and keep the Western troops out of sight, Japan retaliated by attacking the United States and British forces in Asia, thereby seizing its resources.
BEGINNING OF THE PACIFIC WAR
- On December 8, 1941, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. The US eventually joined the Allied Powers with France, Great Britain, and Russia, thus marking the involvement of the US forces in WWII.
- Shortly after, Nazi Germany waged war against the United States on December 11, 1941, which was likewise answered by the Americans, as they declared war against Germany.
- Following the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan had numerous military successes. By December 1941, Japan already invaded Guam, Wake Island, and Hong Kong.
- In the first half of 1942, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies (present Indonesia), Malaya (present Malaysia), Singapore, and Burma (present Myanmar) all fell into the hands of the Japanese.
- The Japanese military troops also managed to pressure neutral Thailand to declare war on the United States and Great Britain.
- However, by mid-1942, Australian and New Zealander forces in New Guinea and British forces in India were able to stop the Japanese forces from further advancing their invasion.
- From June 4-7, 1942, the Battle of Midway took place. The American fleet ended up victorious after outnumbering and sinking four Japanese aircraft carriers and forcing the Japanese to turn back. Japan sustained over 3,000 deaths. This critical battle was the turning point of the Pacific War.
- This was followed by the American assault against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands in August 1942, which resulted in the costly withdrawal of the Japanese military from the Guadalcanal Islands in February 1943.
- There were many battles fought in the Pacific region, especially those involving strategic islands, such as the Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima (bombed for 76 days), and Okinawa. These all resulted in the defeat of the Japanese forces, which sustained significant casualties. Even after these heavy losses, Japan was able to maintain its hold on mainland China until 1945.
- During the US invasions, Japan employed a suicidal military tactic of purposely crashing their fighter jets into US ships. This tactic was known as Kamikaze attacks.
- In October 1944, the American forces started its campaign to reclaim the Philippines from the Japanese empire. The British forces, meanwhile, recaptured Burma, another costly loss to Japan.
- Furthermore, the Japanese army had been successfully pushed back to their country by 1945, but they would not surrender.
- In response, the United States Army Air Force resorted to dropping atomic bombs, destroying the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It killed thousands of people due to the initial explosion and radiation exposure, but Japan again refused to surrender.
- Three days later, the US dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, which finally forced Japan to surrender.
- Following this, Emperor Hirohito formally announced the surrender of Japan to the American forces on August 15, 1945.
END OF THE PACIFIC WAR
- On September 2, 1945, Japan finally signed a surrender treaty with US General Douglas MacArthur aboard American battleship Missouri in Tokyo Harbor. This day was eventually known as VJ day, which means victory in Japan.
- During WWII, the Japanese committed numerous war crimes, including the massacre of up to 20 million Chinese people under their infamous slogan “Kill All, Burn All, Loot All”. Biological weapons were also used to torture war prisoners.
- This resulted in the execution of many Japanese military leaders, including Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.
- Furthermore, it was estimated that 60% of the 1.7 million Japanese troops deployed during WWII died of malnutrition and diseases.
Pacific War Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Pacific War across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Pacific War worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Pacific War. The Pacific theater and the European theater were the two major territories where the events of the Second World War took place. The Pacific covered a large portion of the Pacific Ocean, East Asia, and Southeast Asia, involving Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines in various significant engagements during WWII.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- WWII: Pacific War Facts
- Mapping Out the Battle
- Find the Words
- Fact or Bluff
- Pacific War: A Timeline
- Key Personalities
- The Outcome of the Battle
- Historical Significance
- The Price of the Battle
- In Popular Culture
- In a Nutshell
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Link will appear as Pacific War Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 3, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.