The Second World War 1939-45.

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S.E.G. Coursework Tasks

History: Syllabus B

Assessment Objective 2: Analysing and Explaining the Past

C.S.U. 4: The Second World War 1939-45

On the morning of December the 7th, 1941, Japan carried out a surprise attack on a U.S. naval base, Pearl Harbour, which would change the outcome of the war and the course of history forever.

The first of these problems began to appear during the mid 1920s when many of the countries that had been hit-hard economically by the First World War such as Britain, France and the U.S.S.R. were beginning to recover. This spelt bad news for Japan as its apparent monopoly on trade would now have competition from these other countries as they focused on trading instead of military production. This competition for trading resources was made worse by the lack of natural resources available in Japan. The dependence on imports of raw materials such as coal and iron would mean that the Japanese economy could collapse if it were unable to find a country to trade with, who would have a need for their goods. This happened in 1929 when world trade went into a long-lasting depression as a result of the Wall Street stock market crash. The consequences of this were not good for Japan who relied so heavily upon trade as a means of gaining vital raw materials. With the recession, Japan's exports of silk become particularly hard-hit with prices falling to a fifth of their previous value. Without the imports that Japan so readily needed the economy began to crumble. Many people suffered as a result of this; farmers, businessmen and merchants all lost trade. However, nobody was worse hit than the Japanese people themselves who, similarly to Germans at the time, suffered from food shortages due to a lack of trade and bad agriculture. This amount of poverty coupled with a rapidly increasing population who also needed food forced the Japanese people to breaking point.

This caused the attack on Pearl Harbour as the desperation for food and the need of raw materials would allow the military to grow and become more aggressive in expanding to gain more natural resources from areas such as Manchuria and the French-Indo China until America would intervene by sending aid to China and eventually issuing an ultimatum to Japan to leave French-Indo China. This ultimatum would cause the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbour.

Another problem stemming from Japan itself was the growth of the military which was directly linked to the Economic problems that Japan was having. During these bad times, the army decided take advantage of the poor circumstances. In 1931, without government permission and in defiance of the League of Nations, the Japanese army invaded Manchuria, which at the time was a Chinese province, and captured it in order to "preserve Japanese interests there". In actual fact, the military invaded Manchuria because of its abundance of coal and iron and because the people there would provide a market for Japanese goods. The military was slowly taking control and Emperor Hirohito, who was worshipped by his people, allowed the army to pursue an aggressive foreign policy by invading surrounding areas of Japan and to assassinate any people with liberal views who opposed the military. For example, when Japanese Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai disagreed with the aggressive foreign policy, he was assassinated and replaced by somebody who would agree with them. Similarly, the Nazi party also began government biassassination where any opposition would be killed. Japan began to fall under military control and like Germany; the new government began a policy of censorship where all left-wing groups were banned as well as a policy of propaganda where the military would be praised and all schools were now controlled by the military who controlled their education and their activities, such as beginning to train them for war by teaching them martial arts. It soon became clear that as the military began to step up production on armaments, Japan was getting ready for war.
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By 1933 Japan had captured Korea and Manchuria; however this was not enough for the Japanese military. In 1937 Japan began to expand again, this time into neighbouring China, full of natural resources, and by 1938 they had captures all of the Chinese coast. The reason for this apparently easy victory was down to a civil war that was already taking place in China, with all Chinese opposition tired and low on ammunition it was no wonder that Japan was able to march through to the capital of China, Nanking, with relative ease. However, it was once the ...

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