Study Guide

Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation Timeline

By President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Timeline

August 4, 1914

World War I Begins

Germany invades Belgium, officially kicking off World War I. In this go-round, Japan would fight on the side of the Allies…but they still did a few things here and there that raised some Allied eyebrows and set the stage for some serious clashes down the road.

January 8, 1915

Japan Issues Twenty-One Demands to China

Japan makes not-nice with China by demanding all kinds of control over Manchuria, which makes the United States kind of like whoa about Japan's intentions.

February 5, 1917

U.S. Immigration Act Passes

America's first foray into the fun world of immigration restriction, this piece of legislation imposed a literacy test for all wannabe Americans, and effectively banned immigration from most of the Asia Pacific region.

November 7-8, 1917

Bolshevik Revolution

The Russian czar is overthrown and the Allies' ally becomes a communist foe. Japan and the U.S. worked together to try and mitigate the threat, which caused the Allies to relax a wee tad about Japan's activities in China.

November 11, 1918

World War I Ends

The first world war is officially in the books, and Japan and the Allies part as friends. They'll meet again soon, though, and it won't be long before the meetings are a lot less friendly and a lot more deadly.

November 12, 1921 – February 6, 1922

Washington Naval Conference

The who's-who of the world gather to debrief on World War I and discuss disarmament. Result: the United States and Great Britain are allowed to have more war toys than Japan (and everyone else, for that matter). The Four-Power Treaty and Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty, among other cool treaties, were products of this conference.

September 1, 1923

Kanto Earthquake

130,000 people die and the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama are left in ruins as an 8.2-magnitude quake shakes its way out of Tokyo Bay. This led to a need to rebuild, which put an even greater strain on Japan's limited access to resources…and caused it to focus even more attention on that prime Manchurian real estate.

May 26, 1924

Another U.S. Immigration Act Passes

The United States passes a law that says no more immigrants from Japan, please…or anywhere else in Asia for that matter. It also severely restricted the amount of people that could emigrate from other countries, but none as much as those in Asia.

December 25, 1926

Japan's New Emperor

Hirohito officially becomes Emperor Showa and settles in for a long, busy career.

April 22, 1930

London Naval Treaty

Back at it again: the U.S., Japan, Italy, Great Britain, and France take another stab at an arms reduction treaty, this one focusing on submarines and other naval accessories.

September 18, 1931

Mukden Incident

The Japanese military bombs a railway in Manchuria, blames it on the Chinese, and uses it as an excuse to go to war with China. That's even worse than blaming the dog for eating the last taquito.

February 27, 1932

Manchuria Becomes Manchukuo

Feeling like their Manchurian takeover was finally complete, Japan renames the conquered area Manchukuo, and even starts issuing postage stamps with the country's new name. Like other Japanese conquests, this one hung around until Japan's World War II surrender in 1945.

May 15, 1932

Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Assassinated

Eleven young Japanese naval officers get their coup d'etat on and kill Japan's Prime Minister, with the support of the increasingly militaristic…military. The assassins were court-martialed, but they received super-light sentences, which only reinforced the growing militaristic culture.

Hmm, looks like today's Word of the Day is…militaristic.

February 24, 1933

Japan Leaves League of Nations

Tired of getting ragged on about their activities in Manchuria/Manchukuo, Japan decides to bow out of the League of Nation, leaving a stunned world staring at its retreating back.

March 4, 1933

FDR Inaugurated

Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially becomes the 32nd President of the United States, coming into office on the heels of the Great Depression. He was originally isolationist in terms of getting involved in international skirmishes, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed all that right quick.

November 25, 1936

Anti-Comintern Pact

Japan and Nazi Germany have a pow-wow and decide to make a pact to protect and defend each other from the crazy communists over there in Russia. Italy, Spain, and a couple other dicey fascist-type countries joined in later. Even though many countries weren't wild about communism, they were even less wild about signing pacts with the Nazis and friends, so the pact didn't get a lot of traction outside of that despotic inner circle.

July 7, 1937

Second Sino-Japanese War Begins

Stuff gets real between China and Japan as all of the "incidents" of the past several years finally escalate into a full-on war. It didn't officially end until Japan's WWII surrender in September of 1945.

December 12, 1937

USS Panay Incident

Tensions are high in Nanking, China's capital, as the war between Japan and China escalates. The USS Panay, an American gunboat, cruised over to help some Americans get out of the fray, and got bombed by Japan for its efforts. Three Americans died, and Japan claimed not to have seen all of the American flags and stuff all over the ship.

December 13, 1937 – January 1938

Nanking Massacre

China's capital city gets leveled by invading Japanese forces; thousands of residents were raped, tortured, and/or killed.

July 1, 1938

Let the Sanctions Begin

The U.S. embarks on a series of increasingly severe sanctions against Japan, hoping that if it messes with the Empire's supply chain a little, maybe they'll quit being so horrible to China.

September 1, 1939

Germany invades Poland

Adolf Hitler's Nazis get a wild hair and decide to invade Poland, thus kicking off the international maelstrom known as World War II.

June 22, 1940

France Falls to Germany

Being the petty dude that he was, Hitler forces France to sign their surrender docs in the exact same spot Germany had to sign its surrender docs back in World War I, heaping a lil' more humiliation on the already-red-faced French. In Japan, expansionist eyes narrow as they look toward French Indochina.

July 26, 1940

Export Control Act

The United States issues a trade embargo against Japan since it was being all aggressive; Australia, GB, and others hop on the bandwagon and Japan suddenly has access to 90% less oil.

September 22, 1940

Japan Invades French Indochina

With the French all preoccupied with being defeated by the Nazis, Japan swoops into French Indochina and lays tracks for an occupation that would last until the end of World War II. The U.S. steps up its embargo and sanction game against Japan in response.

September 27, 1940

Tripartite Pact

Italy, Germany, Japan officially sign on to be in cahoots with each other, much to the chagrin of the entire rest of the world.

July 26, 1941

America Gets Serious

The U.S. issues a full oil embargo against Japan: all oil shipments are held back and all Japanese assets in America are frozen. In addition, FDR federalized the Philippine Army and put General Douglas MacArthur in charge of the U.S. military forces in the Far East.

October 18, 1941

Hideki Tojo is Japan's New Prime Minister

Following the resignation of his predecessor, Hideki Tojo joins the ranks of scary despotic leaders and assumes the title of Prime Minister of Japan.

December 7, 1941

Attack on Pearl Harbor

In a move that surprised everyone except the Japanese, who had been planning it for months, Japan bombs the breakfast out of U.S. military installations in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They also attacked several other regions in the Pacific, including British Malaya, which really chapped Britain's hide since it was already all embroiled in the Europe disaster.

December 8, 1941

Declarations of War

FDR delivers his "Infamy Speech" to the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. and Great Britain declare war on Japan. Busy day.

December 8, 1941 – January 31, 1942

Battle of Malaya

The Allies lose big in British Malaya to the Japanese, who set up camp and stay there until the end of World War II.

December 8, 1941 – May 8, 1942

Battle of the Philippines

Japan takes on U.S. and Filipino forces in the Philippines in what ends up being one of very worst military defeats in US history, if not *the* worst. 23,000 Americans and 100,000 Filipinos were killed or captured.

December 9, 1941

China Declares War on Japan

Never one to be left out of a party, China joins its friends and declares war on Japan. This wasn't the first time China and Japan would go to war, but surely people on both sides were kind of hoping it would be the last.

December 11, 1941

Germany and Italy Declare War on the U.S.

In honor of their pact with their buddy Japan, Germany and Italy decide to go ahead and jump on the war-declaring wagon, setting their sights—and declarations of war—on the United States.

January 23, 1942

New Guinea Campaign Begins

Allied buddies Australia and the United States begin clearing the Japanese invaders from Papua and New Guinea. Aiding the Allies was the fact that the Japanese troops were largely cut off from all supplies, and many fell victim to starvation and disease. Big win for the Allies; big disaster for the Empire of Japan.

February 19, 1942

Executive Order 9066

In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent cold prickly feelings toward Japan, FDR authorizes the creation of internment camps for all West Coast dwellers of Japanese ancestry. Roughly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated from their homes in California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona and put in government camps. Seriously, they were put in camps. Those camps remained in operation until 1946. This is one of America's most shameful hours.

March 30, 1942

Showtime in the Pacific Theater

The Joint Chiefs of Staff divides the battle-ridden Pacific region into three commands: the Southwest under General Douglas MacArthur, the Southeast under Admiral Ernest King, and the Pacific Ocean Areas under Admiral Chester Nimitz. This turned out to be a solid piece of strategy.

June 4, 1942 – June 7, 1942

Battle of Midway

The U.S. wipes the floor of Midway Island with the Japanese Imperial Army, and the tides of World War II begin to turn against the Axis.

August 7, 1942 – February 9, 1943

Battle of Guadalcanal

In its first major offensive against Japan, the Allies force their foe to abandon the Solomon Islands…and the war slants even further in favor of the Allied Powers.

April 18, 1943

Admiral Yamamoto Dies

Thanks to U.S. codebreakers and what was probably a really bad idea on the part of the Japanese, Admiral Yamamoto is shot down and killed as he conducts a flyover inspection of those pesky Solomon Islands. What did the U.S. call this little adventure? Operation Vengeance, of course.

November 1943 – February 1944

Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign

Since December 11, 1941, these islands had been under Japanese control. But watch out—here come the Allies. Led by Admiral Nimitz, this bloody campaign ended up being an American victory, but casualties on both sides were heavy, and some Monday morning quarterbacks questioned the whole undertaking.

June - November 1944

Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign

Admiral Nimitz and the rest of the Operation Forager crew battle their way across the Pacific, retaking the Philippines from the Japanese and—bonus—scoring some sweet new locales from which to bomb their foes.

July 18, 1944

Hideki Resigns

The man with a million titles, but never enough power to satisfy, resigns all of his posts after Japan loses badly in the Battle of Saipan.

April 12, 1945

President Roosevelt Dies

Just months before the end of the war, FDR suffers a cerebral hemorrhage while at the Little White House in Georgia and dies. His VP, Harry Truman, took over until Dwight Eisenhower was elected in 1954.

May 8, 1945

V-E Day

Crowds cheer all over the world as the Allies accept Germany's unconditional surrender, thus ending World War II. In Europe, anyway. There was still the issue of the Pacific War, but turns out that didn't last much longer, either.

August 6, 1945

Hiroshima Bomb Drop

Known as "Little Boy," the first atomic bomb used by the United States—or anyone, for that matter—is dropped on the city of Hiroshima in Japan, wiping out over 200,000 people. The dying didn't happen in one fell swoop, either; some people died quite a while later from radiation burns, cancer, and other fun atomic weaponry side effects.

August 9, 1945

Nagasaki Bomb Drop

Three days after "Little Boy" was sent to devastate Hiroshima, the United States does it again, dropping "Fat Boy" on Nagasaki, Japan. The city had been somewhat evacuated after previous (comparatively minor) bombings, but it's still estimated that about 80,000 people died.

August 15, 1945

V-J Day

Emperor Showa announces Japan's surrender in a confusing and hard-to-understand radio broadcast known as the Jewel Voice Broadcast. This was the first time the general public had ever heard their divine ruler's voice.

August 29, 1945

MacArthur Goes to Tokyo

Per the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, General MacArthur relocates to Tokyo and sets about completely changing the economy, government, and culture of Japan.

September 2, 1945

Japan Signs the Potsdam Declaration

On board the USS Missouri, surrounded by fanfare and flanked by General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz, Japan puts its John Hancock to the Potsdam Declaration and prepares for several years of Allied occupation and reconstruction.

April 29, 1946

International Military Tribunal for the Far East Convenes

Over the course of the next two years, twenty-eight Japanese war criminals were tried for their crimes in Tokyo. Of those twenty-eight, seven were sentenced to death and sixteen got life sentences. Noticing how that doesn't add up to twenty-eight? That's because two people received much lighter sentences, two died during the course of the trials, and one dude was found insane.

December 23, 1948

Hideki Tojo Hanged

After being arrested, attempting suicide, getting patched up from the attempt, and then being convicted as a Class A war criminal, Hideki Tojo is hanged in the Sugamo Prison in Tokyo.

April 19, 1951

MacArthur Retires

After a long and illustrious career, General Douglas MacArthur finally hangs it up at the strong request of President Harry Truman.

September 8, 1951

San Francisco Peace Treaty

The Allied occupation of Japan ends with a bang, as forty-eight countries—including Japan—sign the San Francisco Peace Treaty. In addition to ending the occupation, this treaty also dealt with Japan's war reparations, returned its sovereignty, and ended its days as an imperial power.