The Japanese economy slowed after Japan
entered the Showa Period (1926–1989). To recover from the slump, Japan tried
to rule China, which had bounteous resources. The Japanese army stationed in
Manchuria caused the so-called Manchurian Incident in 1931. In the following
year, “Manchukuo” was established by the Japanese as a puppet state. Subsequently,
Japan further invaded the mainland; this led to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese
War. In Europe, Germany attacked its neighboring countries and was opposed by
the United Kingdom and France, triggering World War II.
Japan subsequently formed a military alliance with Germany and
Italy, escalating the conflict with the United States and the United Kingdom,
both of which supported China. To resolve the conflict, Japan continued talks
with the United States, but the talks broke down. On December 8, 1941, Japan
attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On the same day, in Southeast Asia, Japan invaded
the Malay Peninsula, which was then under the rule of the United Kingdom. Japan
thus started the Pacific War with the United Kingdom and the United States.
Initially, Japan successively gained control of Southeast Asian
territories and South Pacific islands. However, as a result of counterattacks
by the United States, which had greater resources than Japan, the tide of the
war gradually turned against Japan. In 1944, the United States began air raids
(attacks by armed planes on a surface target) directly on mainland Japan. In
March 1945, the U.S. military landed on Okinawa, where ground warfare erupted.