The fall of the Rising Sun


Korea becomes a Japanese protectorate

treaty The Korean version of the Eulsa Treaty of 1905

Japan's navy triumphed over Russia in an ideological and physical war fought between the two powers, largely over control of Manchuria and Korea. Shortly after the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War, Korea ceded its sovereignty to Japan with a "treaty" known as the Eulsa Treaty of 1905.


Korea is annexed by Japan

Yong Ye Wanyong

The Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, signed by the Empire of Japan and puppet Korean Prime Minister Ye Wanyong, strips Korea of its last vestiges of sovereignty. Sunjong, the second and final Emperor of Korea refuses to sign, but the Japanese takeover of the once independent empire of Korea is complete.


Japan marches on Manchuria

After blaming an explosion caused by Japanese forces (who acted without approval) on the Chinese, the Japanese army moves into Manchuria, claiming to defend itself from Chinese aggression.


Puppet state created

Japan establishes puppet state of Manchukuo, compromising the occupied area of Manchuria. The Japanese name Henry Puyi, the last Chinese emperor who had abdicated in 1912, as nominal head.


Japan invades China in force

Nanking Bodies of Chinese massacred by Japanese troops along a river in Nanking.

Japanese launch full-scale invasion of China. By December, the Japanese forces conquer the Chinese Nationalist capital Nanking.


French Indochina opens borders

Japan and the pro-German French puppet government on Indochina sign agreement allowing Japanese forces to move troops and supplies through French-ruled Indochina and to occupy the country's northern Tonkin region.

Sept. 22, 1940

Indochina occupation begins

Some 140,000 Japanese troops start occupation of French Indochina in preparation of an attack on the Dutch East Indies.

July 27, 1941

Japanese attack Pearl Harbor

Head Image The USS Arizona on fire after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Dec. 7, 1941

Japan presses attack

Japanese warplanes strike Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore. Its army invades southern Thailand and northern Malaya.

Dec. 8, 1941

Guam falls

The small U.S. military presence on Guam surrenders to the Japanese.

Dec. 9, 1941

Burma invaded

The Japanese-trained Burma Independence Army marches into Burma. Two large Japanese detachments land on the northern coastline of the main Philippine island, Luzon.

Dec.10, 1941

Japanese land in British Borneo

The Japanese Empire's Kawaguchi Detachment lands on the coast of British Borneo and swiftly takes control over the island's air fields and oil assets.

Dec. 17, 1941

Japan expands island territory

Japan attacks Dutch Borneo, Celebes and the Moluccas in the Dutch East Indies.

Dec. 20, 1941

Luzon invaded

Additional Japanese forces land on Luzon, starting the Japanese push toward the Philippines capital Manila.

Dec. 22, 1941

Wake Island falls

Japanese troops capture the American outpost of Wake Island after 11 days of battle.

Above: An American propaganda poster from 1945, bearing an excerpt from the State of the Union address given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Jan. 6, 1942.

It reads: "There were only some 400 United States Marines who in the heroic and historic defense of Wake Island inflicted such great losses on the enemy. Some of these men were killed in action and others are now prisoners of war. When the survivors of that great fight are liberated and restored to their homes they will learn that a 130 million of their fellow citizens have been inspired to render their own full share of service-sacrifice."

Dec. 24, 1941

Hong Kong surrenders to Japan

Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong on Dec. 8, but thanks to stiff fierce resistance from British, Canadian and Indian troops, the city didn't fall until Christmas. More than 10,000 prisoners of war were taken as a result of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.

Dec. 25, 1941

Manila occupied

Manila falls to the Japanese. U.S. forces retreat to the Bataan Peninsula.

Dec. 27, 1941

Bataan under attack

Japanese forces begin main assault on U.S. forces on the Bataan Peninsula.

Jan. 9, 1942

Thailand joins the fray

Japan-allied Thailand declares war on the United States and Great Britain.

Jan. 25, 1942

The British surrender Singapore to Japan

Arthur Percival marches under a flag of truce in order to sue for surrender of the British forces to the Japanese on Feb. 15, 1942.

British Lt. Gen. Arthur E. Percival surrendered Singapore, handing approximately 16,000 British, 14,000 Australian and 32,000 Indian soldiers to Japanese forces. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the surrender "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history."

Feb. 15, 1942

Java invaded

Japanese invade Java in the Dutch East Indies.

Feb. 28, 1942

Japan's territory grows

Japanese forces land in New Guinea at Lae and Salamaua. Allied forces on Java surrender. Bali, Timor and Java fall into Japanese hands, completing the Empire's occupation of the Dutch East Indies.

March 8, 1942

US forces outgunned

Prisoners of war on the Bataan Death March

U.S. forces on the Philippine Bataan Peninsula surrender to the Japanese after three months of fighting. The infamous Bataan Death March - in which thousands of prisoners of war were made to march 65 miles in the grueling jungle heat in just five days - was a result. Thousands died during the march, from dehydration, exhaustion or by execution from the Japanese.

April 9, 1942

Corregidor falls

Japan takes Corregidor Island and with it the strategically important access to Manila Bay.

May 6, 1942

Burma falls

British troops withdraw completely out of Burma, leaving it to the Japanese.

May 20, 1942

Japan marches on Port Moresby

Japanese forces land on the northern coast of New Guinea and start making their way to Port Moresby, the capital, defended by Australian Allied forces.

June 22, 1942

Battle for Guadalcanal begins

This Marine photo from Oct. 1942 shows Marines in a Japanese-built fighting hole during.

U.S. forces land on Guadalcanal and several other Japanese-held islands in the Solomon Islands chain in an attempt to stop the Japanese advance toward Australia.

Aug. 7, 1942

Japan driven out of New Guinea

U.S. and Australian forces defeat the last of the Japanese on New Guinea.

Jan. 2, 1943

Guadalcanal liberated

After six months of fighting, the U.S. gains control of Guadalcanal.

Feb. 9, 1943

Burma declared independent by Japan; Indochina occupation begins

Though technically given their independence by Japan, Burma remained firmly under the rule of Japanese troops until the end of the war.

Aug. 1, 1943

Philippines declared independent by Japan

Much as with Burma, this independence was a sham. Japan installed the Second Philippine Republic, a puppet government whose main purpose was to incite support of the war on the side of the Axis.

Oct. 14, 1943

Allies take Kwajalein

Allied forces take control of Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands.

Feb. 6, 1944

Japan invades India

Japanese troops enter India from Burma and move toward Imphal, meeting British and Indian resistance.

March 22, 1944

American troops land on Saipan

2nd Marine Division troops crawl through enemy fire shortly after hitting the beaches of Saipan.

U.S. forces land on Saipan, marking the start of the campaign to retake the Marianas Islands.

June 15, 1944

Allies land on Guam

U.S. forces land on Guam, the largest of the Marianas Islands.

July 21, 1944

Japanese resistance on Guam ends

Marines blast Japanese pillboxes as they crouch for cover as they battle for control of Guam.

Aug. 10, 1944

Japanese forces retreat from India

The twin battles of Imphal and Kohima months earlier broke the Japanese, forcing a humiliating retreat from India.

Aug. 11, 1944

Philippine campaign begins

U.S. lands four divisions on Leyte, marking the beginning of the 10-month campaign to retake the Philippines.

Oct. 20, 1944

Allies take Leyte

Gen. Douglas MacArthur wades ashore during initial landings at Leyte, Philippine Islands.

U.S. forces secure Leyte and direct their efforts to the taking of the largest of the Philippine islands, Luzon.

Dec. 25, 1944

U.S. forces land at Luzon

Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the 6th Army land on the Gulf of Luzon, carving an important foothold for the Allies to take the Philippines.

Jan. 9, 1945

U.S. forces land on Iwo Jima

Marines crawl along the beach, digging in to avoid enemy fire as they land on Iwo Jima.

The battle for Iwo Jima began with days of aerial and naval bombardment, after which a massive land invasion began.

Feb. 19, 1945

Manila taken by U.S. troops

U.S. forces take Manila, 173 days after landing in Luzon.

March 4, 1945

Japan takes Indochina

Japanese take full control of Indochina after the fall of the French pro-German government in France.

March 9, 1945

US forces secure Iwo Jima

Marines atop Mount Suribachi celebrate raising the American flag.

After 36 days, the Allies secure Iwo Jima, marking the beginning of the end of the Japanese Empire in the Pacific. More than 26,000 American casualties were recorded, but nearly 20,000 Japanese soldiers were killed attempting to defend the island.

March 16, 1945

British forces capture Mandalay, Burma.

After a prolonged siege by the 19th Indian Division, the Japanese evacuated Fort Dufferin in the middle of the night, handing control of Mandalay to the British.

March 20, 1945

Battle of Okinawa begins

U.S. forces attack the island of Okinawa.

April 1, 1945

US drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima.
Aug. 6, 1945

Soviets against Japan

Soviet Union declares war on Japan and pours more than one million soldiers into Manchuria, where Japan still has a 700,000-strong army.

April 8, 1945

US drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

The atomic mushroom cloud over Nagasaki.
Aug. 9, 1945

Japan announces its unconditional surrender

Allied troops in Paris celebrate Victory in Japan Day.

The bloodiest war of the 20th century comes to an end as Japan surrenders unconditionally. More than 55 million people lost their lives as a result of World War II.

Aug. 14, 1945

Surrender signed

Japanese sign surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Sept. 2, 1945

Troops surrender in China

Japanese authorities in China sign surrender documents.

Sept. 9, 1945

Japan surrenders to Britain

Japanese forces within the Southeast Asia Command formally surrender to the British.

Sept. 12, 1945

Sources: The Library of Congress World War II Companion,
World War II Day by Day, Campaigns of World War II Day by Day;
The Oxford Companion to World War II,
Canadian Parliament, House of Commons Debates 1942,
U.S. Army Center of Military History and the U.S. Marine Corps History Division