Many students know about the European front during World War II, but fewer may have learned in-depth about the just-as-relevant Pacific/Asian front.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese air forces attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, the 50th and newest state of the Union. Following the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress decided that the United States should join WWII officially.
In just about a year, U.S. resources overwhelmed Japanese resources. The U.S. produced more vehicles, ships, and aircraft than all other forces involved in the war. Furthermore, the U.S. seized many captured Japanese occupied territories. Simply put, Japanese forces were no match for American forces.
Of course, the Japanese wouldn’t have been as tantamount a threat as they were if they didn’t have victories along the way. By April of 1942, the Japanese controlled Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, the East Indies, the Philippines, Burma, and some of the Pacific islands. Due to their proximity, Japanese armies also threatened India and Australia. Japan’s success was based on a small, highly-trained forces protected by carrier borne aircraft.
But, as we know today, Japan didn’t win World War II. One of their biggest military failures was the now infamous and aforementioned attack on Pearl Harbor, a show of force originally intended to keep the U.S. out of the war. However, this ultimately had the opposite effect. Japan also failed to advance their military technology, especially in comparison to the U.S. For example, the Japanese had very few tanks.
Although Japan was a powerful force during World War II, they were defeated by their own sword: a lack of investment in advanced technology and an insatiable appetite to conquer all that they could led to the nations crushing demise.
[Source: Complete History of the World]