Japan campaign

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Task Force 38, of the U.S. Third Fleet maneuvering off the coast of Japan, 17 August 1945, two days after Japan agreed to surrender. Task Force 38 off the coast of Japan 1945.jpg
Task Force 38, of the U.S. Third Fleet maneuvering off the coast of Japan, 17 August 1945, two days after Japan agreed to surrender.

The Japan Campaign was a series of battles and engagements in and around the Japanese Home Islands, between Allied forces and the forces of Imperial Japan during the last stages of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The Japan Campaign lasted from around June 1944 to August 1945.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Pacific War theatre of war in the Second World War

The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China.

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Air war

Periodic air raids on Japan were the first attacks undertaken by Allied forces. In late 1944, these raids were followed by a major strategic bombing of cities, factories, and other war infrastructure throughout Japan, most notably:

Air raids on Japan aerial bombing of Japan during the Pacific War

Allied forces conducted many air raids on Japan during World War II, causing extensive destruction to the country's cities and killing between 241,000 and 900,000 people. During the first years of the Pacific War these attacks were limited to the Doolittle Raid in April 1942 and small-scale raids on military positions in the Kuril Islands from mid-1943. Strategic bombing raids began in June 1944 and continued until the end of the war in August 1945. Allied naval and land-based tactical air units also attacked Japan during 1945.

Strategic bombing military attacks by air aimed at destroying a countrys ability to make war and will to fight

Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale or its economic ability to produce and transport materiel to the theatres of military operations, or both. It is a systematically organized and executed attack from the air which can utilize strategic bombers, long- or medium-range missiles, or nuclear-armed fighter-bomber aircraft to attack targets deemed vital to the enemy's war-making capability.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

Bombing of Tokyo (10 March 1945)

On the night of 9/10 March 1945 the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) conducted a devastating firebombing raid on Tokyo, the Japanese capital city. This attack was code-named Operation Meetinghouse by the USAAF and is known as the Great Tokyo Air Raid in Japan. During the raid, bombs dropped from 279 Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers burned out much of eastern Tokyo. More than 88,000 and possibly over 100,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, were killed and one million left homeless, making it the single most destructive air attack of World War II. The Japanese air and civil defenses proved inadequate, and only 14 American aircraft and 96 airmen were lost.

Conflagration great and destructive fire

A conflagration is a large and destructive fire that threatens human life, animal life, health, and/or property. It may also be described as a blaze or simply a (large) fire. A conflagration can begin accidentally, be naturally caused (wildfire), or intentionally created (arson). Arson can be for fraud, murder, sabotage or diversion, or due to a person's pyromania. A very large fire can produce a firestorm, in which the central column of rising heated air induces strong inward winds, which supply oxygen to the fire. Conflagrations can cause casualties including deaths or injuries from burns, trauma due to collapse of structures and attempts to escape, and smoke inhalation.

Firebombing

Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire, caused by incendiary devices, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs.

The air raids resulted in heavy damage to Japanese infrastructure and the deaths of 500,000 Japanese citizens (mostly civilians), as well as the loss thousands of aircraft and flak guns. The Allies, in turn, only lost a few hundred aircraft (mostly bombers) to Japanese anti-air defenses and fighters.

Land and sea battles

In early 1945, there were two major island battles:

Battle of Iwo Jima Major battle in which US Forces captured the island of Iwo Jima from Japan during World War II

The Battle of Iwo Jima was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II. The American invasion, designated Operation Detachment, had the goal of capturing the entire island, including the three Japanese-controlled airfields, to provide a staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands. This five-week battle comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War of World War II.

Battle of Okinawa major battle of the Pacific War

The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. The initial invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The 82-day battle lasted from April 1 until June 22, 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were planning to use Kadena Air Base on the large island of Okinawa as a base for Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, 340 mi (550 km) away.

There were also two naval battles:

Operation Ten-Go Japanese naval operation in World War II

Operation Ten-Go was a Japanese naval operation plan in 1945, consisting of four likely scenarios. Its first scenario, Operation Heaven One became the last major Japanese naval operation in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The resulting engagement is also known as the Battle of the East China Sea.

Allied warships also bombarded several Japanese cities during July and August 1945.

Allied naval bombardments of Japan during World War II Simultaneous bombings of Japan by the Allies during World War II

During the last weeks of World War II, warships of the United States Navy, the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy bombarded industrial and military facilities in Japan. Most of these bombardments were conducted by battleships and cruisers, and caused heavy damage to several of the targeted factories, as well as nearby civilian areas. A major goal of the attacks was to provoke the Japanese military into committing some of its reserve force of aircraft into battle. However, the Japanese did not attempt to attack the Allied bombardment forces, and none of the involved warships suffered any damage.

The battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa foretold what was to be expected when the Japanese Home Islands were attacked. Iwo Jima and Okinawa were lost only after extremely fierce resistance was overcome. In both cases, the Japanese refused to surrender and there were few survivors. While Japanese losses were extremely high, Allied forces paid dearly to take both islands.

Naval operations included a suicidal Japanese counteroffensive on 7 April 1945 (Operation Ten-Go), to relieve Okinawa and an Allied campaign to place air and submarine-delivered mines in Japanese shipping lanes. This was illustrated by the naval surface interdiction of Tokyo Bay in July 1945.

In late 1945, the Soviet Union launched a series of successful invasions of Northern Japanese territories, in preparation for the planned invasion of Hokkaido:

The end

Tokyo from the air after the firebombing of Tokyo, 1945. After Bombing of Tokyo on March 1945 19450310.jpg
Tokyo from the air after the firebombing of Tokyo, 1945.

World War II ended with the surrender of Japan after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Before those two attacks, Japan was unwilling to surrender. The firebombing of Japanese cities resulted in 350,000 civilian deaths but did not move the government towards surrender. The Japanese government was clearly prepared to fight an Allied invasion of the home islands as fiercely as they had defended Iwo Jima and fought on the Japanese home island of Okinawa.

The Japan Campaign was intended to provide staging areas and preparation for a possible Allied invasion of Japan and to support Allied air and naval campaigns against the Japanese mainland. Japan still had a homeland army of about two million soldiers and sufficient resources to cripple an Allied invasion. Consequently, had that invasion been necessary, it most likely would have resulted in a much higher death toll for both sides.

See also

Sources

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Air warfare of World War II

The air warfare of World War II was a major component in all theaters and, together with anti-aircraft warfare, consumed a large fraction of the industrial output of the major powers. Germany and Japan depended on air forces that were closely integrated with land and naval forces; the Axis powers downplayed the advantage of fleets of strategic bombers, and were late in appreciating the need to defend against Allied strategic bombing. By contrast, Britain and the United States took an approach that greatly emphasised strategic bombing, and tactical control of the battlefield by air, as well as adequate air defences. Both Britain and the U.S. built a strategic force of large, long-range bombers that could carry the air war to the enemy's homeland. Simultaneously, they built tactical air forces that could win air superiority over the battlefields, thereby giving vital assistance to ground troops. The U.S. and Royal Navy also built a powerful naval-air component based on aircraft carriers, as did Japan; these played the central role in the war at sea.

Bombing of Aomori in World War II

The Bombing of Aomori in World War II on July 28, 1945, was part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the United States against military and civilian targets and population centers during the Japan home islands campaign in the closing stages of World War II.

Japanese air attacks on the Mariana Islands raids which targeted United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bases

During World War II, a series of Japanese air attacks on the Mariana Islands took place between November 1944 and January 1945. These raids targeted United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bases and sought to disrupt the bombing of Japan by B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers operating from the islands. The Japanese lost 37 aircraft during this operation, but destroyed 11 B-29s and damaged a further 43. Preparations were also made for commando raids on the bases in early and mid-1945 but these did not go ahead.

The Bombing of Chiba in World War II was part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the United States of America against military and civilian targets and population centers during the Japan home islands campaign in the closing stages of World War II, and included two separate air raids in 1945. The second, and larger, air raid of July 6, 1945 is also referred to as the “Tanabata Air Raid”, as it occurred on the night of a traditional festival.

The Bombing of Kumagaya in World War II on 14 August 1945, was part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the United States of America against military and civilian targets and population centers during the Japan home islands campaign in the closing stages of World War II.

The Empire of Japan entered World War II by launching a surprise offensive which opened with the attack on Pearl Harbor at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time on December 7, 1941. Over the course of seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The strategic goals of the offensive were to cripple the U.S. Pacific fleet, capture oil fields in the Dutch East Indies, and expand the outer reaches of the Japanese Empire to create a formidable defensive perimeter around newly acquired territory.