Jun 25, 2018 in Political

How did Japan's desire for expansion lead to World War II

History has recorded countless events whose memories give an understanding of how life was several years ago before the existence of the current generation. The world witnessed events of every nature ranging from evil to good. There is massive development and achievements which the world enjoys today as a result of historical events in human history. It is also important to note that many lives have been affected because of events which took place long time ago. This is because some of the witnessed historical events had permanent impact on human life. It is with regard that many historians consider World War I and World War II as major historical events which shaped the world and whose impact is still felt today. There was unimaginable loss of life, destruction of property and formation of allies among the involved parties with the fight for supremacy being core. Key players in these wars included but not limited to Japan, China, Germany, Britain and the United States of America. They had different push and pull factors which contributed to their involvement in war. Although there were several factors which led to both World War I and World War II, it is believed that Japan’s desire for expansion significantly contributed to WWII. Historical analysts argue that Japan’s idea of expanding its territory triggered friction of defense which escalated into World War II. This research paper explores Japan’s desire for expansion including specific events which unfolded leading to War that cost lives and destroyed property. To achieve this objective, the research utilized resources like books, Journal articles and websites. 


The Second World War can be described as a historic event which involved global military conflict. It is one of the events which define the 20th century together with others like World War I. World war II lasted for around six years from 1939 to 1945 with all world powerful nations being involved. These great powers got organized in two mega opposing military groups which were referred to as Allies and Axis. History notes World War II as the most organized warfare in history that managed to mobilize more than one million military personnel worldwide. It was during this time that every nation pulled their resources together including economic, industrial, scientific and technological capabilities towards an immediate mission of war which was at hand.  As a result of these, no one could tell the difference between civilian and military resources. The event was marked with massive acts of cruelty and injustice against civilians some of which included but not limited to the Holocaust together with the use of nuclear weapons. This called for advanced nuclear technology setting a completion pace between the two major rival groups. This event has been described as the deadliest of all events in human and resulted into millions of deaths and unknown loss of property.

According to historical findings, WWII begun in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. This invasion was immediately followed by France making declarations of war against Germany with members of Commonwealth and the British Empire. It is important to note that Japan and China were already at war when these declarations were being made. It is worth double emphasizing that many countries were not initially involved in a part from the likes of Japan and China. However, attacks and missions that were to be accomplished compelled many nations to getting involved. A good example is the attack of on the United States at Pearl Harbor and its attack to other colonies of Britain. It was believed that one of the major reasons why Japan made these attacks which fuelled the commence of the war was its desire to expand its territory and have defined command over resources. It was a move that saw the United States make war declarations on Japan a move which finally sparked World War II. It can therefore be argued that Japan’s desire to expand was a major cause of World War II. Although there were other factors, the involvement of Japan increased the intensity of friction. Despite this involvement the question of why Japan had the desire to expand has never left the minds of many people throughout history. What pushed Japan to attack U.S and other colonies? Indeed a concise answer to this would tell whether the attacks were legitimate or not.

Statement of need

According to this research, there have been discussions concerning the role which Japan played during the Second World War. Many believe that Japan’s desire for expansion significantly contributed to the escalation of animosity among great nations. As a result, the research is set to find out how Japan propagated its expansion motive. It further seeks to find out whether this expansion desire was the only cause of World War II.

Research questions

  1. What triggered the expansion of Japan?
  2. What was the outcome of the mission to expand its territory?
  3. Did Japan’s expansion desire lead to WWII?

Literature review

World War II is one the history discussion topics which has received massive coverage. Many people including historians, research experts and even students have invested their time and resources in understanding the events before and after the war with regard to major causes and effects of the war. This information has been authored into books and journals to serve as resource tools in exploration of human history. This research particularly utilized online books, journals and websites in gathering of credible information concerning Japan’s desire to expand itself and how the mission contributed to WWII.

Japan before WWII

Japan is one of the world’s leading economies and has been in the frontline in matters of discoveries and exponential industrial growth. However, it has undergone manifold transformation throughout history. Like many other countries, Japanese suffered racial discrimination served as slaves accompanied with other forms of injustices. The question many people revolves around Japan’s stability throughout history. This is usually attributed to its desire to expand its territory a move that was seen by many as a contributing factor towards WWII. According to historical findings, Japan became open the modern world during 19th century. The country is believed to have been a middle age that was made up of a feudalistic society. Unlike other countries, the introduction of Japan to the Modern world augmented its growth and establishment. In 1900’s the country was already been seen successful as it had quickly modernized.

Notably, the exponential growth of Japan made it stronger in terms of military capability. This enabled Japanese to thrash Russians at the Manchurian arena. These allowed them to have free access to China for almost years. These early attacks by Japan indicate its determination and desire to expand its territory. While many would think that the attack on China was enough, Japan went a mile a head to German Pacific island colonies during the First World War. It is clear that Japan’s power was growing significantly and some countries viewed it as a threat to the world. Having captured China and German Pacific island colonies, Japan was enjoying a wider economic coverage and considerable power. Its expansion was indeed posing a command threat with its leaders not showing any signs of ending the attacks on other countries and colonies. Japan considered its first two successful captures as a boost to expand its authority and dominance becoming more aggressive and powerful. Although there was no war, it was clear that Japan’s aggressiveness was triggering fear and military conflict which was later to turn into the Second World War. Japan further targeted Northern China, Korea and Formosa which were captured after its first two victories. Japan’s leadership which was mainly militaristic maintained its pace in capturing nations and targeting to expand its territory to Siberia with Tokyo serving as its capital city. What does one need to occur opponents? It is clear that Japan was considering numbers and expanded domain as key tools to win war and dominance in the world. With its continuous successful captures, Japan was aiming at establishing a stable economy and military base which was to be essential in future warfare and survival for the fittest.

Was the expansion of the territory aimed at causing war? War seemed to be ultimate target for Japan as it focused on attacking more powerful territories. After victory of over German occurred, Japan’s authority viewed USA as the only obstacle to becoming the world’s strongest nation in terms of military power and economic influence. The location of an American colony in the middle of Japanese sphere posed a security threat to the Japanese Navy forcing it to launch an attack that was later to trigger global warfare. Japanese forces attacked Hawaii and Philippines causing the US to cut supply of oil and other products to Japan. It is clear that the Japan had reached a point of no return and was ready to pursue warfare to the bitter end. It was not ready to be considered second best powerful nation in the world. Its driving objective and mission was the capturing of territories and countries. With this expansion desire, nothing would hinder Japan from realizing its goal. Therefore the economic war initiated by the United States of America was not palatable to American authorities. It therefore pursued its pre-destined war plans without considering the consequences. Although many people and countries may have been caught by surprise, it is clear that the Second World War was never to be an accident to the Japanese. They had pursued the course of war a very long time, having captured almost all its neighboring nations and constantly being involved in war.

Based on the tactics used by Japanese leadership many people have found it had to tell when the expansion of its territory began. They carried out the expansion process in manner which many people find it hard to link with the Second World War. The signing of the Tripartite Pact with Italy and Germany was also seen as a move to strengthen its military capability leading to the formation of the Axis which turned out to be one of the two parallel groups that fought during the war. Apart from the real war which was witnessed, the expansion of Japanese territory triggered fear and curiosity. Why did the United States cut the supply of oil to Japan? It is obvious that US authorities realized the aggressiveness of Japan with regard to capturing other nations. By so doing, US wanted to weaken Japanese operations as far as dominance and military services were concerned. US further understood that it would be hard for Japanese forces to advance without. This was quite detestable to the Japanese authority leading to the attack of US and British forces which were based in Asia. This was mainly to seize resources in the region which were to supplement the shortage realized because of US economic war.

Research findings

It was found out that many countries played different roles during the Second World War. These countries included Japan, Germany, Poland, Russia, China, Britain and the United States among others. With many reasons having led to the escalation of war that culminated into the WWII, the research revealed that Japan played a mega role. Notably, the desire of Japanese to increase can be viewed as one of the major causes of the war whose effects were fatal and undesirable. Throughout its capturing mission, Japan used brutal means including kidnapping, military attacks and treaties. The research further found out that Japanese attack on US was the pinnacle of conflicts, tension and the boiling point of the Allies and the Axis.


World War II is still one the world’s most horrifying events that left millions of people dead, wounded and property of unknown value destroyed. Although there has never been a consensus on whether it was possible to avert this war, its causes remain a point of discussion. There were several reasons that led to WWII. Nevertheless, the desire of Japan to expand was quite significant, overshadowing many other factors which contributed to war. From the very first tine that Japan began attacking its neighbors, it was clear that Japan had a mission to accomplish, to attack the United States and finally get in control of the entire through military and economic stability. Why was it determined to conquer every nation? Why couldn’t Japan stop attacking when it realized that US was the only obstacle?  It is evident that expansion of Japanese territory was a well planned process with its pioneers being prepared for war. There is enough evidence that many countries got worried and concerned about Japan’s aggressiveness, thus generating tension which was to erupt during WWII.

Why was Japan’s approach towards its expansion peaceful? Every attack was characterized by violence and brutal killing. Thousands of people were killed in camps, prisoners murdered and property destroyed. In other words, Japan was well prepared and understood that war was among the obstacles on the way to capturing the world. As a result, the eruption of military conflict which led to WWII was not unexpected since they were used to war. They however had no idea of the nature of the outcome of the war because of the alignment which had emerged during its territory expansion process. The attack on the United States was indeed the ultimatum of Japanese course of territorial expansion in 1941. The severe damage caused by Japan interfered shortly with the military operations of the US. This stirred up military friction between the two sides leading to war declarations by many countries including Germany, US and the United States.  


It is clear that Japan’s desire for expansion significantly contributed to the World War II. Since Japanese had the urge to control resources and have authority over nations, war was the only tool and option. However, Japan entered the war with a limited scope of the intensity of the war. Although Japan gained dominance over China and Russia, it failed to recognize that the dominance was not as a result of complete defeat. They applied the same fashion to every attack they made without considering the wider sphere of war. Pearl Harbor attack is still viewed as the greatest US military defeat in history that left over 2,000 US soldiers dead. Although Japan gained partial victory, it was the start of their downfall. Having joined the war with a limited mind of capturing recourses, Japan believed that it had destroyed the US military only to witness its defeat together with all the Axis counties. Apart from the defeat Japan received, it never achieved its objective of expansion. Most of the countries it captured became independent. With its current stable economy, Japan remains a key player in the events which led to the WWII. Its desire for expansion had far reaching effects like war, loss of property and promoting of the WWII.

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