World War II (detail from Pearl Harbor photo)

Axis Aggression

Imperial Japan

In an ominous prelude to World War II, Japanese forces swept into eastern China in 1937 and laid waste to Shanghai and Nanking. Japan’s leaders proclaimed this the first step in creating a “new order” that would rid Asia and the Pacific of Western colonial and imperial influence. Japan had annexed Korea in 1910 and taken control of Manchuria in 1931. Tojo became war minister in 1940 and prime minister in 1941. He directed the occupation of resource-rich French Indochina (now Vietnam), then set his sights on British Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, the American Philippines, and Australia.

General Hideki Tojo oversaw the culmination of Japan’s effort to drive colonial powers from eastern Asia and to establish a self-sufficient empire.
Japanese soldier executes a Chinese prisoner
Victims of Japanese atrocities in Nanking
A Chinese woman mourns the loss of her family in a Japanese raid
Japanese tanks devastate Shanghi

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