War in the Pacific: Outbreak of the War
Glory or Oblivion: Japan's Pacific Gamble
The war in the Pacific involved one-third of the
earth's surface. It is important to note that Japan possessed the
Northern Marianas, Marshall, and Caroline islands since World War I.
Japan's search for raw materials lead to the advancement against Malaya,
a British colony which had vast amounts of rubber, and to Singapore, a
major British base in Asia. The Dutch East Indies and Borneo had large
sources of oil; the Philippines, an American colony, was the location of
several important military installations.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor utilized
revolutionary tactics in naval warfare, including a task force centered
around aircraft carriers. The Japanese achieved a complete surprise on
the morning of December 7, 1941. Over 90 American warships were anchored
at Pearl Harbor; 21 were sunk or sustained heavy damage by skilled
Japanese aviators. The Japanese pilots wore either a lightweight or
fur-lined constructed uniform. Samurai swords, symbols of their ancient
warrior heritage, were carried by some pilots.
We proclaim herewith that our Japanese Army has
occupied this island of Guam by the order of the Great Emperor of Japan.
It is for the purpose of restoring liberty and rescuing the Whole
Asiatic people and creating the permanent peace in Asia. Thus our
intention is to establish the New Order in the World.
You all good citizens need not worry anything under
the regulations of our Japanese authorities and my (sic) enjoy your
daily life as we guarantee your lives and never distress nor plunder
your property. In case, however, when we demand you (sic) accommodations
necessary for our quarters and lodgings, you shall meet promptly with
our requirements. In that case our Army shall not fail to pay you in our
Those who conduct any defiance and who act spy (sic)
against our enterprises, shall be court martialled and the Army shall
take strict cause to execute such criminals by shooting!
Dated this 10th day of December 2601 in Japanese
calendar or by this 10th day of December 1941.
By Order of the Japanese Commander-in-Chief
American Surrender of Guam
Government House Guam
10 December 1941
From: Governor of Guam
To: Senior Officer Present, Commanding Imperial
Japanese Forces in Guam.
Captain George J. McMillin was Naval
Governor of Guam between 1940 and the time of the Japanese
1. I, Captain George J. McMillin, United States Navy,
Governor of Guam and Commandant, United States Naval Station, Guam by
authority of my commission from the President of the United States, do,
as a result of superior military forces landed in Guam this date, as an
act of war, surrender this post to you as the representative of the
Imperial Japanese Government.
2. The responsibility of the civil government of Guam
becomes yours as of the time of signing this document.
3. I have been assured by you that the civil rights
of the population of Guam will be respected and that the military forces
surrendered to you will be accorded all the rights stipulated by
International Law and the laws of humanity.
(s) G.J. McMillin
Realizing that the news of the Pearl Harbor attack
would reach American forces in the Philippines, the Japanese planned
aerial attacks by dawn of December 8. The Army's 5th Air Division was
assigned the task of attacking airfields in northern Luzon, while the
Navy's 21st and 23rd Air Flotillas were to bomb Clark Field near Manila.
Arriving much later than planned, Japanese pilots were amazed to find
U.S. aircraft parked close together in rows. The attack on Clark Field
destroyed over 100 bombers and fighters. Two days later, the Japanese
XIV Army began landing troops in the Philippine Islands. Despite
American and Filipino resistance the islands were overrun by superior
Simultaneously, Japanese bombers attacked Wake
Island. Seven American fighters were destroyed on the ground. The Pan
American Airways' facilities were also destroyed, and 55 civilians were
On December 11, the Japanese tried to land on the
Pacific atoll, but the Marine defenders sank two Japanese destroyers and
thwarted any take-over. Japanese forces finally invaded 12 days later
and forced the island to capitulate. Eight hundred twenty Japanese died
and 333 were wounded in the battle for Wake Island; American losses
totaled 120 killed, 49 wounded, and 2 missing.
On the Malaya Peninsula, Japanese troops used
bicycles to make rapid advances. General Yamashita's offensive
overwhelmed the British defenders at Kuala Lumpur, earning him the
nickname, "Tiger of Malaya".
Japan's Emperor Hirohito was regarded as
a god. His subjects swore absolute loyalty to him. (left) A Japanese
pilot sets out on a mission during the early part of World War II.