Japanese expansion (1941-1942)

The Japanese expansion of 1941-1942 refers to the opening of the Pacific War when the Empire of Japan attacked British, Dutch, Australian and American holdings in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

The Japanese plan was to create a large perimeter stretching into the western-central Pacific in order to facilitate a defensive war while exploiting the resources of Southeast Asia as part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. As a further precaution, the Japanese also planned to neutralize the American Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. Starting on December 7/8, the Japanese launched a highly successful campaign and by the end of April, 1942, nearly all of their objectives had been fulfilled with minimal losses.

In the start of May, Japan attempted to expand on their defensive perimeter and cut communications between Australia and the United States by capturing the Allied position at Port Moresby. This attack was eventually rebuffed following the Battle of the Coral Sea.


The offensive

The attack on Pearl Harbor

Capture of Southeast Asia

Malaya and Singapore

* Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse

Hong Kong


Indonesia and Territory of New Guinea

* Battle of the Java Sea
* Bombing of Rabaul (1942)
* Battle of Timor


* Indian Ocean raid

Attack on Central Pacific islands

* Guam
* Battle of Wake Island
* Gilbert Islands
** Makin
** Tarawa
* Bombing of Midway


* Battle of Changsha (1942)
* Bombing of Darwin (February 1942)

Operation Mo

* Invasion of Tulagi (May 1942)
* Battle of the Coral Sea

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