South Asia, with its supplies of oil, tin, rubber, and quinine, was the first priority in Japanese plans for the war. The arrows on this map show Japan's apparently unstoppable advance during the months following Pearl Harbor. By early May, the Japanese controlled Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, the American islands of Wake and Guam, and much of south Asia.
1. Locate Hawaii, Japan, China, and the clusters of islands between Hawaii and Japan. The headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were in Hawaii. Why do you think Americans were so shocked by the attack on Pearl Harbor?
2. Find Midway Atoll, located northwest of Honolulu about 3000 nautical miles from the west coast of the United States and 2250 from Tokyo, Japan. How do you think these tiny Pacific islands might have been useful to whatever country that controlled them during World War II?
3. Midway, the westernmost of the Hawaiian island chain, was sometimes called the "sentry to Hawaii." Why would the United States think it was essential to control the atoll?
4. Study the map carefully. How long did it take Japan to take control of these areas? Admiral Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese Pacific Fleet, reportedly was concerned about the effect of "victory disease" on his forces? What do you think he meant by that?
* The map on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 1, but be aware that the file may take as much as 50 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.