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Ahmed El-Hussein The Japanese expansion in WWII Pre-World War II, the Japanese had begun to harbour an aggressive

nationalistic attitude. The Japanese expansion began in 1931 with the invasion of Manchuria, even before the start of the war. In 1940 Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, thus entering a military alliance called the Axis. This entry into the war resulted the expansion of the Japanese empire, resulting in the capture of the majority of South East Asia. Although at first it was largely effective, its surrender ultimately signalled the end of the expansion and the demise of the empire. To curb the growing Japanese militarism, the United States, Britain, and Dutch governments stopped selling iron ore, steel and oil to Japan, thus denying it the raw materials needed to continue its economic growth, this was at a time when the Japanese economy had been heavily affected by the global depression; Trade barriers were erected by the west to restrict Japanese trade and to protect their own colonial markets, this led to the Japanese believing that the League of Nations favoured the wests control of resources. In then end, the Japanese government and nationalists viewed these embargos as an aggressive threat that must be dealt with; this was because imported oil provided 80% of Japans oil needs, without which Japan's economy and military, would falter. Overtime, Japans economy had deadlocked as resources had run exceptionally low this resulted in it becoming increasingly economically isolated. The Japanese began planning for a war with the ABCD group in1941. The key objective of the expansion was for the Southern Expeditionary Army Group to seize control natural resources in Asia believing that the distribution of natural resources in the world was unfair and that the western powers had acted hypocritically in sanctioning Japan. Previous Japanese military attacks had been successful for Japan. The SinoJapanese War contributed significantly to Japan's foreign exchange reserves; the Russo-Japanese War resulted in Japan taking control of the Manchurian Railroad and the Liaotung Peninsula, it was also one of the first times an Asian country had defeated a European power in war, this led to the Japanese becoming very confident that there military endeavours would be successful. On December 8th Japan attacked Hong Kong eventually winning in 25th December, during the same time there were simultaneous attacks on British Malaya and the Philippines which were also easily conquered by the Japanese army. Thailand, surrendered within 24 hours of the Japanese invasion on December 21st. This was quickly followed by the invasions of Burma, the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the capture of Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Rabaul in January. The pace of expansion was rapid and by February, Bali and Timor had also been successfully invaded along with the all-important Singapore which had been heavily fortified by the British, as to gain the control of the highly strategic major Pacific shipping routes. The Japanese then seized the key oil production zones of Borneo, Central Java, Malang, Cepu,

Sumatra, and Dutch New Guinea. The Japanese then strengthened their supply lines and control of the region by capturing key islands on the Pacific. In 1944, Japan launched an invasion into China; these attacks gained much ground for Japan before they were stopped. The apparent lack of resistance experienced by the Japanese army during their expansion was largely due to the European colonial powers being primarily focused in the war against Germany leaving South East Asia largely unprotected, this worsened as they began to run out of personnel and materiel as the war progressed. Although in 1944, the Japanese launched an attack on India. The Japaneses supply lines were inadequate to maintain their forces. Once hopes for an early victory were thwarted, his troops starved. The Japanese stopped the operation on 3rd July. They had lost over 50,000 troops, mainly to starvation and disease. It was the worst defeat suffered by the Japanese Army to that date, signaling a change in momentum. During the expansion, the Japanese had benefited greatly. Japan now controlled a large proportion of South East Asia, thus an extensive wealth of resources had become available, along with a market to sell it to. Japan no longer relied upon oil from the USA and was becoming immune to the oil embargoes and tariffs imposed on them and their goods. However, the battle of the Pacific, especially in Medway greatly hindered them not only militarily but also economically, as resources were being used up at a faster rate than they were being produced. This led to food and resources being rationed throughout Japans occupied territories. It had become evident that the economies of Japan and its occupied territories all suffered heavily. As Inflation was rocketing prices, Japanese heavy industry, which was forced to focus nearly all its production for military purposes, was unable to meet the domestic needs of Japan-which had previously relied on trade with Western countries-. Local industries were unable to produce at high enough levels to avoid severe shortfalls. Furthermore, trade with its territories became minimal because of the damage to the Japanese merchant fleet over the course of the war. Eventually, by the end of the war, the destruction caused brought the Japanese economy to a standstill. In conclusion, the Japanese expansion, which had been relatively fast, benefited the Japanese Empire only in the short run, as it eventually led to its downfall and what it wanted to avoid- a failing economy.