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Japan's belief in its "special position" in Asia collided with the United States' perception that its own security interests in the Pacific were linked to its commitments in Europe and that Japan threatened both. The fall of France in 1940 coincided closely with the Japanese invasion of France's colonies in Southeast Asia. Almost simultaneously,the United States undertook economic sanctions against Japan.The armed conflict itself inspired new military strategies and technologies and became the crucible of political change. WWII inaugurated a new era of naval warfare, covering thousands of square miles within a single battle. At first, Japan conquered an area that encompassed 100 million people, but its forces were soon rolled back by the United States.The nuclear strikes against Japan were the final stage in a death agony that included devastating incendiary raids on its urban centers, The power vacuum brought about by the wartime destruction throughout Asia drew the United States inexorably into playing a central role. Some would call the Allied Occupation of Japan a sucess insofar as it set the stage for Japan's later economic successes. The Japanese were astute, devoted students of the United States, and their energies and business practices were such thatthey eventually surpassed their teachers. The basis of this success is often traced to the Occupation, and in many respects that era can be seen as a watershed in contemporary Japanese history. But the foundation of the Japanese "miracle" was laid decades and even centuries earlier in the development of a culture that accepted intense competition alongside a hierarchical social structure, and which invented new capitalist institutions {such as the zaibatsu) as early as the Meiji period.Following the war in the rest of Asia, resurgent nationalist movements succeeded in establishing new governments. The transition to independence was turbulent and occasionally violent. In Vietnam, politics quickly polarized between a French regime and a communist-led nationalist movement under Ho Chi Minh. Indonesia prevailed against the Dutch under the leadership of Sukarno. In the Philippines, the transition to democracy was at last complete, but its promising beginnings were stunted by the accidental death of its early champion and charismatic president, Ramon Magsaysay.






Videos: "From the Barrel of a Gun." and "Reinventing Japan.




After viewing the video and reading Chapter 5, you should have a basic understanding of the following concepts.


1. Global circumstances that led to the US decision to impose an embargo on Japan, and Japan's response to the embargo.


2. The location and impact of the sea and air war in the Pacific theater of WWII.


3. The original location and significance of Japan's invasions of East and Southeast Asia, and the postwar effects in those areas.


4. The impact of the Cold War on intra-regional relationships immediately after WWII.


5. The fact that WWII was a catalyst for nationalist movements in Pacific Asia.




This is a list of important terms, people, and places that you should understand from reading the text.


Article Nine

Bandung Conference

Democratic Republic of Vietnam

Dien Bien Phu

French Indochina

Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere



Kita Ikki

Douglas Mac Arthur


Occupation of Japan

Pearl Harbor



Showa Emperor (Hirohito)

Viet Minh

Lu Xun







1. What was the importance of literature and writing to Asian political movements of the early twentieth century? Who were the most prominent authors? (ref. the video.)


2. What influence, if any, did the military have on Japanese politics in the pre-WW II period? Why was Kita Ikki (ref. video) influential with certain young officers? What did he accomplish? How?


3. Look at the list of Key Concepts and Names for this chapter. Find all place names, then locate each place on the maps in the text.


4. Who was Ramon Magsaysay? What did he accomplish?


5. What were the terms and goals of the 1954 Geneva Agreement? Which terms were carried out? Which were not? How? Why?


6. What was the purpose of the 1955 Bandung Conference? What nations sent representatives? What precepts were spelled out?


7. Zhou Enlai made expert diplomatic maneuvers at the Bandung Conference. What were his statements, proposals, and achievements? Did Zhou have a lasting impact? If so, what was it?


8. Both the Dutch and the French tried to re-establish control of their Asian colonies after WWII. How did other Western powers help or hinder these attempts?


9. Although the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was a brilliant military success, it was a tactical mistake. Why? What were the goals of the attack on Pearl Harbor? Were they achieved?


10. What was the impact of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia on Indonesian nationalism? How was postwar Indonesia different from the prewar Indonesia the Dutch had known?


11. How useful was the Tripartite Pact to the Japanese? Why would a non-fascist government ally itself with fascist states? How did this alliance affect Anglo-American views of Japan?


12. Characterize the national mood of Japan in the 1930s. Did it differ from the national mood of Meiji Japan? How?


13. How open were Japanese politics in the 1920s? the 1930s? the 1940s? What forces were at work to change the openness of Japanese politics?


14. Who fought the Battle of Dien Bien Phu? One side was stunningly defeated. Which? What were the consequences of the battle?



The Pacific War and Its Aftermath

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