Was WWII started because of the desire for world domination?Why did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor?

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In 1940, a trade embargo placed on Japan by the United States severely impacted Japan financially. Japan needed natural resources, and the embargo effectively cut off their supply of many important items such as aviation fuel and metals. Japan needed these resources in order to continue their war with China, and when the United States cut them off, it angered them and it put them at a disadvantage. Japan had its own plans for advancement in Asia, seeing Germany, China and the United States as already holding a great deal of power and wanting to be able to hold onto some power themselves. Th attack on Pearl harbor was, then, a preemptive strike as well against the United States to keep them from becoming even more powerful.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Japan was an island country that depended on foreign resources.  This made them vulnerable to being cut off from those resources, just as they were cut off to oil and scrap iron exports from the US immediately prior to the war starting.  So Japan sought to build an empire that would guarantee their access to these resources.

Once France was conquered and Britain was under siege by Germany, conquering their colonies in Asia became easy.  By December of 1941, the United States was the only empire left with enough military and naval strength to stand in Japan's way.  So they attacked Pearl Harbor to hopefully destroy our ability or will to interfere.  They attacked the Philippines at the same time, for the same reason, and fundamentally misjudged our reaction by doing so.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the phrase "world domination" is too strong. Instead, I would say that it was caused by Japan's desire to have an empire similar to the ones that were controlled by the United States and by various European countries.

This is why Pearl Harbor was attacked.  The Japanese did it because they felt they needed to conquer an empire so as to have enough raw materials to keep their country powerful.  They realized that the US would try to stop them.  Because of that, they tried to destroy the US fleet at Pearl Harbor so the US would be unable to stop them before they got the empire they needed.

I suppose you could say that the war was started by a desire for world domination, but it was a desire on the part of all sides -- the US and Britain wanted to maintain their dominance and the Germans and Japanese wanted to have a piece of the pie.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In a short answer to your secondary question, indeed, the Second World War did start through the desire for world domination.  Hitler and Mussolini were doing their best to carve up the whole of Europe.  This left the Pacific Rim for the third member of the alliance, the Japanese.  In the end, the bombing of Pearl Harbor was done to severely limit, if not outright cripple, the naval capacity of the United States.  The element of surprise was achieved, as the fleet in Hawaii was unable to respond in time to deter the attack and America was caught completely off guard.  In the end, the hope of deterring the American naval and armed forces effort failed because the attack on Pearl Harbor was seen and used as a rallying cry for the United States entry into World War II.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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World War II happened primarily because of aggressive actions of Hitler. And Hitler had expressed from time to time his desire and his promise to German people to dominate the world. For example in his autobiography Mein Kampf, published in two volumes in 1925 and 1927, he stated his plans to conquer much of Europe. He promised to recover territories lost in World War I and to add  Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia where Germans lived to Germany. He also spoke of  seizing living space from Poland, the Soviet Union, and other countries to the east.

Other indications of Hitlers desire of dominating the world are his claim of racial superiority of German people, naming Germany Third Reich.

Hitlers words were very much matched by his actions. He started his expansionist program much before start of World War II. He undertook vigorous program to increase the military strength of Germany from 1933 onward. In 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland, Hitler troops invaded Austria in 1938 and made it a of Germany. Then he secured consent of France and Great Britain consented to occupation of the German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia. He took control of the rest of Czechoslovakia also in March 1939.

Hitler wanted to take over Poland also, but Britain and France took action to guaranteed Poland's independence. In August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed treaties of friendship which among other things divided Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union and promised the Soviet Union other territory in eastern Europe. This was clearly an attempt by Hitler to take support of Soviet Russia against France and Great Britain, before launching a major offensive against them.

From all these facts it is very clear that Hitler's desire for world domination was a major cause of starting and extending World War II.

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