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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hirohito officially becomes Emperor Showa and settles in for a long, busy career.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
China's capital city gets leveled by invading Japanese forces; thousands of residents were raped, tortured, and/or killed.
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.
Adolf Hitler's Nazis get a wild hair and decide to invade Poland, thus kicking off the international maelstrom known as World War II.
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.
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.
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.
Italy, Germany, Japan officially sign on to be in cahoots with each other, much to the chagrin of the entire rest of the world.
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.
Following the resignation of his predecessor, Hideki Tojo joins the ranks of scary despotic leaders and assumes the title of Prime Minister of Japan.
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.
FDR delivers his "Infamy Speech" to the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. and Great Britain declare war on Japan. Busy day.
The Allies lose big in British Malaya to the Japanese, who set up camp and stay there until the end of World War II.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Per the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, General MacArthur relocates to Tokyo and sets about completely changing the economy, government, and culture of Japan.
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.
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.
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.
After a long and illustrious career, General Douglas MacArthur finally hangs it up at the strong request of President Harry Truman.
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.