Imperial Rule Assistance Association
The Imperial Rule Assistance Association, or Imperial Aid Association, was Japan's wartime organization created by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on October 12, 1940, to promote the goals of his Shintaisei movement. It evolved into a "statist" ruling political party which aimed at removing the sectionalism in the politics and economics in the Empire of Japan to create a totalitarian one-party state, in order to maximize the efficiency of Japan's total war effort in China; when the organization was launched Konoe was hailed as a "political savior" of a nation in chaos. Based on recommendations by the Shōwa Kenkyūkai, Konoe conceived of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association as a reformist political party to overcome the deep-rooted differences and political cliques between bureaucrats and the military. During the summer of 1937, Konoe appointed 37 members chosen from a broad political spectrum to a preparatory committee which met in Karuizawa, Nagano; the committee included Konoe's political colleagues Fumio Gotō, Count Yoriyasu Arima and ex-syndicalist and right-wing spokesman Fusanosuke Kuhara.
The socialist and populist left wing was represented by Kingoro Hashimoto and the traditionalist military wings by Senjūrō Hayashi, Heisuke Yanagawa and Nobuyuki Abe. Konoe proposed that the Imperial Rule Assistance Association be organized along national syndicalist lines, with new members assigned to branches based on occupation, which would develop channels for mass participation of the common population to "assist with the Imperial Rule". However, from the start, there was no consensus in a common cause, as the leadership council represented all ends of the political spectrum, in the end, the party was organized along geographic lines, following the existing political sub-divisions. Therefore, all local government leaders at each level of village, town and prefectural government automatically received the equivalent position within their local Imperial Rule Assistance Association branch. Prior to creation of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, Konoe had passed the National Mobilization Law, which nationalized strategic industries, the news media, labor unions, in preparation for total war with China.
Labor unions were replaced by the Nation Service Draft Ordinance, which empowered the government to draft civilian workers into critical war industries. Society was mobilized and indoctrinated through the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement, which organized patriotic events and mass rallies, promoted slogans such as "Yamato-damashii" and "Hakkō ichiu" to support Japanese militarism; this was urged to "restore the spirit and virtues of old Japan". Some objections to it came on the grounds that kokutai, imperial polity required all imperial subjects to support imperial rule. In addition to drumming up support for the ongoing wars in China and in the Pacific, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association helped maintain public order and provided certain public services via the tonarigumi neighborhood association program, it played a role in increasing productivity, monitoring rationing, organizing civil defense. The Imperial Rule Assistance Association was militarized, with its members donning khaki-colored uniforms.
In the last period of the conflict, the membership received military training and was projected to integrate with civil militia in case of the anticipated American invasion. As soon as October 1940, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association systemized and formalized the Tonarigumi, a nationwide system of neighborhood associations; the November 6, 1940 issue of Shashin Shūhō explained the purpose of this infrastructure: The Taisei Yokusankai movement has turned on the switch for rebuilding a new Japan and completing a new Great East Asian order which, writ large, is the construction of a new world order. The Taisei Yokusankai is, broadly speaking, the New Order movement which will, in a word, place One Hundred Million into one body under this new organisation that will conduct all of our energies and abilities for the sake of the nation. Aren't we all mentally prepared to be members of this new organization and, as one adult to another, without holding our superiors in awe or being preoccupied with the past, cast aside all private concerns in order to perform public service?
Under the Taisei Yokusankai are regional town and tonarigumi. In February 1942, all women's associations were merged into the Greater Japan Women's Association which joined the Imperial Rule Assistance Association in May; every adult woman in Japan, excepting the under twenty and unmarried, was forced to join the Association. In June, all youth organizations were merged into the Greater Japan Imperial Rule Assistance Youth Corps, based on the model of the German Sturmabteilung. In March 1942, Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō attempted to eliminate the influence of elected politicians by establishing an sponsored election nomination commission, which restricted non-government-sanctioned candidates from the ballot. After the 1942 Japanese General Election, all members of Diet were required to join the Yokusan Seijikai, which made Japan a one-party state; the Imperial Rule Assistance Association was formally dissolved on June 13, 1945. During the occupation of Japan, the American authorities purged thousands of government leaders from public life for having been members of the Association.
Many of the leaders of
The Meiji Restoration known as the Meiji Renovation, Reform, or Renewal, was an event that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although there were ruling emperors before the Meiji Restoration, the events restored practical abilities and consolidated the political system under the emperor of Japan; the goals of the restored government were expressed by the new emperor in the Charter Oath. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure and spanned both the late Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period; the Japanese knew that they were behind the Western world when American Commodore Matthew C. Perry came to Japan in 1853 in large warships with armament and technology that far outclassed those of Japan with the intent to conclude a treaty that would open up Japanese ports to trade. Figures like Shimazu Nariakira concluded. Observing Japan's response to the Western powers, Chinese general Li Hongzhang considered Japan to be China's "principal security threat" as early as 1863, five years before the Meiji Restoration.
The leaders of the Meiji Restoration, as this revolution came to be known, acted in the name of restoring imperial rule to strengthen Japan against the threat represented by the colonial powers of the day, bringing to an end the era known as sakoku. The word "Meiji" means "enlightened rule" and the goal was to combine "modern advances" with traditional "eastern" values; the main leaders of this were Itō Hirobumi, Matsukata Masayoshi, Kido Takayoshi, Itagaki Taisuke, Yamagata Aritomo, Mori Arinori, Ōkubo Toshimichi, Yamaguchi Naoyoshi. The foundation of the Meiji Restoration was the 1866 Satsuma-Chōshū Alliance between Saigō Takamori and Kido Takayoshi, leaders of the reformist elements in the Satsuma Domain and Chōshū Domain; these two leaders supported the Emperor Kōmei and were brought together by Sakamoto Ryōma for the purpose of challenging the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and restoring the Emperor to power. After Kōmei's death on January 30, 1867, Meiji ascended the throne on February 3; this period saw Japan change from being a feudal society to having a market economy and left the Japanese with a lingering influence of Modernity.
The Tokugawa government had been founded in the 17th century and focused on reestablishing order in social and international affairs after a century of warfare. The political structure, established by Ieyasu and solidified under his two immediate successors, his son Hidetada and grandson Iemitsu, bound all daimyōs to the shogunate and limited any individual daimyō from acquiring too much land or power; the Tokugawa shogunate came to its official end on November 9, 1867, when Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th Tokugawa shōgun, "put his prerogatives at the Emperor's disposal" and resigned 10 days later. This was the "restoration" of imperial rule – although Yoshinobu still had significant influence and it was not until January 3, the following year, with the young Emperor's edict, that the restoration occurred. Shortly thereafter in January 1868, the Boshin War started with the Battle of Toba–Fushimi in which Chōshū and Satsuma's forces defeated the ex-shōgun's army; this forced the Emperor to strip Yoshinobu of all power.
On January 3, 1868, the Emperor made a formal declaration of the restoration of his power: The Emperor of Japan announces to the sovereigns of all foreign countries and to their subjects that permission has been granted to the Shōgun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to return the governing power in accordance with his own request. We shall henceforward exercise supreme authority in all the internal and external affairs of the country; the title of Emperor must be substituted for that of Taikun, in which the treaties have been made. Officers are being appointed by us to the conduct of foreign affairs, it is desirable. All Tokugawa lands were seized and placed under "imperial control", thus placing them under the prerogative of the new Meiji government. With Fuhanken sanchisei, the areas were split into three types: urban prefectures, rural prefectures and the existing domains. In 1869, the daimyōs of the Tosa, Satsuma and Chōshū Domains, who were pushing most fiercely against the shogunate, were persuaded to "return their domains to the Emperor".
Other daimyō were subsequently persuaded to do so, thus creating, arguably for the first time, a central government in Japan which exercised direct power through the entire "realm". Some shogunate forces escaped to Hokkaidō, where they attempted to set up a breakaway Republic of Ezo; the defeat of the armies of the former shōgun marked the final end of the Tokugawa shogunate, with the Emperor's power restored. By 1872, the daimyōs, past and present, were summoned before the Emperor, where it was declared that all domains were now to be returned to the Emperor; the 280 domains were turned into 72 prefectures, each under the control of a state-appointed governor. If the daimyōs peacefully complied, they were given a prominent voice in the new Meiji
Life imprisonment is any sentence of imprisonment for a crime under which convicted persons are to remain in prison either for the rest of their natural life or until paroled. Crimes for which, in some countries, a person could receive this sentence include murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, apostasy, severe child abuse, child rape, treason, high treason, drug dealing, drug trafficking, drug possession, human trafficking, severe cases of fraud, severe cases of financial crimes, aggravated criminal damage in English law, aggravated cases of arson, burglary, or robbery which result in death or grievous bodily harm, aircraft hijacking, in certain cases genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, certain war crimes or any three felonies in case of three strikes law. Life imprisonment can be imposed, in certain countries, for traffic offenses causing death; the life sentence does not exist in all countries, Portugal was the first to abolish life imprisonment, in 1884.
For more info about life imprisonment in other countries worldwide, refer here. Where life imprisonment is a possible sentence, there may exist formal mechanisms for requesting parole after a certain period of prison time; this means. Early release is conditional on past and future conduct with certain restrictions or obligations. In contrast, when a fixed term of imprisonment has ended, the convict is free; the length of time served and the conditions surrounding parole vary. The date when a convict is eligible for parole does not predict when or if parole will be granted. In many countries around the world in the Commonwealth, courts have the authority to pass prison terms which exceed a century. For example, courts in South Africa have handed out at least two sentences that have exceeded a century. In Tasmania, Martin Bryant, the perpetrator of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, received 35 life sentences, plus 1,035 consecutive years, all to run concurrently and for the term of his natural life.
Another example of a life sentence that exceeded a century was Aurora Cinema shooter James Holmes, who received 12 consecutive life sentences and an extra 3,318 years without the possibility of parole for injuring 70,killing 12, 112 counts of attempted murder in the Colorado cinema and booby trapping his apartment with explosives. Few countries allow for a minor to be given a lifetime sentence with no provision for eventual release. According to a University of San Francisco Law School study, only the U. S. had minors serving such sentences in 2008. In 2009, Human Rights Watch estimated that there were 2,589 youth offenders serving life sentences without the possibility for parole in the U. S; the United States leads in life sentences, at a rate of 50 people per 100,000 residents imprisoned for life. In 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that sentencing minors to life without parole, automatically or as the result of a judicial decision, for crimes other than intentional homicide, violated the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishments", in the case of Graham v. Florida.
Graham v. Florida was a significant case in juvenile justice. In Jacksonville, Terrence J. Graham tried to rob a restaurant along with three adolescent accomplices. During the robbery, one of Graham's accomplices had a metal bar that he used to hit the restaurant manager twice in the head. Once arrested, Graham was charged with attempted armed robbery and armed burglary with assault/battery; the maximum sentence he faced from these charges was life without the possibility of parole, the prosecutor wanted to charge him as an adult. During the trial, Graham pleaded guilty to the charges, resulting in three years of probation, one year of which had to be served in jail. Since he had been awaiting trial in jail, he served six months and therefore was released after six additional months. Within six months of his release, Graham was involved in another robbery. Since he violated the conditions of his probation, his probation officer reported to the trial court about his probation violations a few weeks before Graham turned 18 years old.
It was a different judge presiding over his trial for the probation violations a year later. While Graham denied any involvement of the robbery, he did admit to fleeing from the police; the trial court found that Graham violated his probation by "committing a home invasion robbery, possessing a firearm, associating with persons engaged in criminal activity", sentenced him to 15 years for the attempted armed robbery plus life imprisonment for the armed burglary. The life sentence Graham received meant he had a life sentence without the possibility of parole, "because Florida abolished their parole system in 2003". Graham's case was presented to the United States Supreme Court, with the question of whether juveniles should receive life without the possibility of parole in non-homicide cases; the Justices ruled that such a sentence violated the juvenile's 8th Amendment rights, protecting them from punishments that are disproportionate to the crime committed, resulting in the abolition of life s
Tama Cemetery in Tokyo is the largest municipal cemetery in Japan. It is split between the cities of Koganei within the Tokyo Metropolis. First established in April 1923 as Tama Graveyard, it was redesignated Tama Cemetery in 1935, it is one of the largest green areas in Tokyo. People interred at Tama Cemetery include: Gensui The Marquis Saigō, the famous Meiji politician and naval commander. Around 1900, Tokyo had five public cemeteries - Aoyama, Yanaka and Kameido; as the population of Tokyo grew, cemetery space grew scarce, there was a need to build a cemetery outside of the city limits of Tokyo. In 1919, city park manager Kiyoshi Inoshita issued a plan to establish a large park/cemetery to the north and west of Tokyo. Tama, to the west of Tokyo, was selected with construction started two years later, it was said that the site was chosen because of access to transportation infrastructure, such as the Kōshū Kaidō, Keiō Line, Seibu Tamagawa Line, Chūō Main Line. The cemetery was opened in 1923.
The planned northern and eastern cemeteries are Yahashira, respectively. In 1934, Gensui The Marquis Tōgō, the naval war hero, was buried in Tama Cemetery, spreading the popularity of the cemetery. During World War II, Kawasaki Ki-61 from nearby Chofu Airfield were hidden and repaired in the cemetery; some facilities in the cemetery still have bullet holes from U. S. strafing. Use of the cemetery increased, with the last open spot used in 1963. Since 1963, only reburials and other such uses have opened up new spaces. In 1962 a green lawn-type cemetery was added, in 1993, Mitama Hall, a columbarium, was added. Aikawa Yoshisuke, the founder and first president of the Nissan zaibatsu between 1931 and 1945 General Anami Korechika, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, War Minister at the surrender of Japan General Baron Araki Sadao, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Army before World War II and one of the principal nationalist right-wing political theorists in the late Japanese Empire Arita Hachirō, the Minister for Foreign Affairs for three terms, believed to have originated the concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere Azuma Ryōtarō, Governor of Tokyo from 1959 to 1967 Vice Admiral Fukudome Shigeru, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II Lt-General Furushō Motoo, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Army Baron Tanaka Giichi, a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, the 26th Prime Minister of Japan from 20 April 1927 to 2 July 1929 Hara Shūjirō, a politician who served as Minister for Colonial Affairs in the Empire of Japan General Hayashi Senjūrō, the Imperial Japanese Army commander of the Chosen Army of Japan in Korea during the Mukden Incident and the invasion of Manchuria, 33rd Prime Minister of Japan from 2 February 1937 to 4 June 1937 Gensui The Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō, a Gensui in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of Japan's greatest naval heroes Baron Honjō Shigeru, a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during the early period of the Second Sino-Japanese War General Ichinohe Hyoe, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Army Ino Hiroya, a politician and cabinet minister in Japan Lt-General Inoue Masakichi, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II Admiral Inoue Shigeyoshi, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and a Vice-Minister of the Navy Kanemitsu Tsuneo and cabinet minister in the Empire of Japan Lt-General Kawagishi Bunzaburō, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Army during the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War Baron Den Kenjirō, a cabinet minister in the pre-war government of the Empire of Japan and the 8th Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan from October 29, 1919 to September 1923 Baron Hiranuma Kiichirō, a prominent pre–World War II right-wing Japanese politician and the 35th Prime Minister of Japan from 5 January 1939 to 30 August 1939 Kinoshita Mokutarō, a Japanese author, poet, art historian and literary critic Kishida Ryūsei, a Taishō and Shōwa period painter Kitagawa Fuyuhiko, a Japanese poet and film critic Count Kodama Hideo, a politician, wartime cabinet minister in the Empire of Japan Gensui Koga Mineichi, a commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet Kurata Hyakuzō, a Japanese essayist and playwright on religious subjects, active during the Taishō and early Shōwa periods Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo, a senior commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II Matsuda Genji, a politician and cabinet minister in the Empire of Japan Mishima Tokushichi, a Japanese metallurgist Mishima Yukio, a Japanese author, playwright and film director Nakajima Chikuhei, founder of the Nakajima Aircraft Company and a cabinet minister for several posts Noda Kōgo, a Japanese screenwriter most famous for collaborating with film director Ozu Yasujirō Admiral Okada Keisuke, senior naval commander who served as the 31st Prime Minister o
Hideki Tojo was a Japanese politician and general of the Imperial Japanese Army who concurrently served as the Imperial Rules Assistance Association's leader and 27th Prime Minister of Japan during much of World War II. He was among the most outspoken proponents for preventive war against the United States before the attack on Pearl Harbor and one of the leading perpetrators behind Japanese war crimes against prisoners of war and civilians during the Pacific conflict. After the end of the war, Tojo was arrested and sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, hanged on December 23, 1948. Hideki Tojo was born in the Kōjimachi district of Tokyo on December 30, 1884, as the third son of Hidenori Tojo, a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army. Under the bakufu, Japanese society was divided rigidly into four castes. After the Meiji Restoration, the caste system was abolished in 1871, but the former caste distinctions in many ways persisted afterwards, ensuring that those from the former samurai caste continued to enjoy their traditional prestige.
The Tojo family came from the samurai caste, though the Tojos were lowly warrior retainers for the great daimyōs that they had served for generations. Tojo's father was a samurai turned Army officer and his mother was the daughter of a Buddhist priest, making his family respectable, but poor. Hideki had an education typical of a Japanese youth in the Meiji era; the purpose of the Meiji educational system was to train the boys to be soldiers as adults, the message was relentlessly drilled into Japanese students that war was the most beautiful thing in the entire world, that the Emperor was a living god and that the greatest honor for a Japanese man was to die for the Emperor. Japanese girls were taught that the highest honor for a woman was to have as many sons as possible who could die for the Emperor in war; as a boy, Tojo was known for his stubbornness, lack of a sense of humor, for being an opinionated and combative youth fond of getting into fights with the other boys and for his tenacious way of pursuing what he wanted.
Japanese schools in the Meiji era were competitive, there was no tradition of sympathy for failure. Tojo was of average intelligence, but was known to compensate for his limited intelligence with a willingness to work hard. Tojo's boyhood hero was the 17th-century shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who issued the injunction: "Avoid the things you like, turn your attention to unpleasant duties". Tojo liked to say: "I am just an ordinary man possessing no shining talents. Anything I have achieved I owe to my capacity for hard work and never giving up". In 1899, Hideki entered the Army Cadet School; when he graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in March 1905, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry of the IJA. In 1905, Tojo shared in the general outrage in Japan at the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the war with Russia, which the Japanese people saw as a betrayal as the war did not end with Japan annexing Siberia as popular opinion had demanded; the Treaty of Portsmouth was so unpopular that it set off anti-American riots known as the Hibiya incendiary incident as many Japanese were enraged at the way the Americans had cheated Japan as the Japanese gains in the treaty were far less than what public opinion had expected.
Few Japanese at the time had understood that the war with Russia had pushed their nation to the verge of bankruptcy, most people in Japan believed that the American president Theodore Roosevelt who had mediated the Treaty of Portsmouth had cheated Japan out of its rightful gains. Tojo's anger at the Treaty of Portsmouth left him with an abiding dislike of Americans. In 1909, Hideki married Katsuko Ito, with whom he had four daughters. In 1918–19, Tojo served in Siberia as part of the Japanese expeditionary force sent to intervene in the Russian Civil War. Tojo served as Japanese military attache to Germany between 1919-1922; as the Imperial Japanese Army had been trained by a German military mission in the 19th century, the Japanese Army was always strongly influenced by intellectual developments in the German Army, Tojo was no exception. In the 1920s, the German military favored preparing for the next war by creating a totalitarian Wehrstaat, an idea, taken up by the Japanese military as the "national defense state".
In 1922, on his way home to Japan, Tojo took a train ride across the United States, his first and only visit to America, which left him with the impression that the Americans were a materialistic "soft" people devoted only to making money and to hedonistic pursuits like sex and drinking. Tojo boasted that his only hobby was his work, he customarily brought home his paperwork to work late into the night, he refused to have any part in raising his children, which he viewed both as a distraction from his work and a woman's work, having his wife do all the work of taking care of his children. A stern, humorless man, Tojo was known for his brusque manner, his obsession with etiquette, for his coldness. Like all Japanese officers at the time, Tojo slapped the faces of the men under his command when giving orders, saying that face-slapping was a "means of training" men who came from families that were not part of the samurai caste, for whom bushido was not second nature. In 1924, Tojo was offended by the Immigration Control Act passed by the American Congress b
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan
The Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan was an administrative post not of Cabinet rank in the government of the Empire of Japan, responsible for keeping the Privy Seal of Japan and State Seal of Japan. The modern office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was identical with the old Naidaijin only in name and should not be confused; the office was abolished in 1945 after the Second World War. The modern office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was formed in 1885, after the Meiji government established the Japanese cabinet, he was responsible for the administration of imperial documents such as rescripts and edicts. Petitions to the emperor and the court were handled by the Lord Keeper's office, as well as the responses; when the Privy Council was created in 1888, the Privy Seal retained his independent advisory role. The term "privy" in Privy Council and Privy Seal identifies a direct relationship of special trust. In 1907, the post was expanded to become the Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal with a chief secretary, three secretaries and six assistants in order to handle the increased workload with the passing of the genrō.
After the start of Emperor Hirohito's reign in 1925, the office and position of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal became important, at the expense of the office of the Prime Minister. Political infighting within the Diet of Japan further boosted the power of the Lord Keeper; the holder of this position was able to control, allowed to have an audience with the emperor, as well as the flow of information. The office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was abolished on 24 November 1945, the position itself was abolished with the promulgation of the new constitution in November 1946. Thus, former Grand Chamberlain Fujita Hisanori was the last Lord Keeper. Today, the seals are kept in the care of the Chamberlain of Japan. Lord Privy Seal Keeper of the seals Takenobu, Yoshitaro.. The Japan Yearbook. Tokyo: The Japan Year Book Office. OCLC 145151778 National Archives of Japan... Click link for photograph of meeting of Privy Counsel Article on the abolishment of the position of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal from Japanese Press Translations
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo