What strategy did the Allies use to defeat Japan in WWII?

The strategy that the Allies used to defeat Japan in the Pacific Theater was island hopping or leapfrogging. Using Australia and New Zealand as staging areas for a two-pronged attack in the southwest and central Pacific, they attacked less heavily defended islands, in the process cutting off and isolating more heavily defended islands. After the atomic bomb was developed, their final strategy was to bomb cities on the Japanese mainland, which eliminated the necessity of a costly invasion.

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The Allies considered several strategies to defeat Japan in World War II. Early on, they considered that control of the South China Sea and a foothold on the mainland of China would be of utmost importance. They reasoned that this could possibly be accomplished via an overland route from Burma....

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The Allies considered several strategies to defeat Japan in World War II. Early on, they considered that control of the South China Sea and a foothold on the mainland of China would be of utmost importance. They reasoned that this could possibly be accomplished via an overland route from Burma. This proved to be unfeasible, however, due to lack of resources. Another possible strategy was to attack Japan via the Northern Pacific route. This area was ultimately deemed too cold and isolated for a major offensive.

Eventually the Allies settled on using Australia and New Zealand as staging areas and launching a two-pronged offensive based on amphibious assaults of the many islands in the southwest and central Pacific. In 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway were decisive in proving that the Allies could hold their own in the Pacific. The Battle of Midway in particular shifted the balance of naval power, and in August 1942, the Allies commenced the amphibious invasion of Guadalcanal.

After this important island was taken, the Allies set their sights on another heavily defended island called Rabaul. However, rather than directly attack Rabaul and incur major losses of men and resources, they decided to bypass it and attack islands that were less well defended. This isolated Rabaul and cut it off from supplies. This became a strategy that the Allies continued to follow, referred to as "island hopping" or "leapfrogging." They used the Pacific's vast distances to isolate and weaken the Japanese forces on some islands by conquering the weaker islands all around them.

By the time the Allies captured Okinawa in mid-1945, the Japanese air force and navy were decimated and the Japanese mainland was being heavily bombed. Plans were being finalized for the strategy of an invasion of the Japanese mainland in late 1945, although it was projected to be horribly costly in terms of Allied casualties. It proved to be unnecessary, however, when the final Allied strategy became the dropping of two atomic bombs on heavily populated Japanese cities. Japan formally surrendered after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rendering a land invasion with troops unnecessary.

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The Allied strategy to defeat Japan in the Pacific Ocean was a strategy called island hopping. After the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the American military in the Pacific was severely depleted. As a result, the Japanese were able to capture much of the central and much of the western Pacific Ocean area. Once we were able to rebuild our military, which was done much faster than most people expected, we were able to counter these Japanese attacks.

Two very critical battles in the Pacific Ocean were the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Midway Island. At Guadalcanal, the Japanese were hoping to position themselves so they would have a direct path to Australia and to New Zealand, which Japan hoped to capture. At Midway Island, the Japanese were hoping to secure that island so it could attack and capture Hawaii. In both instances, the Japanese were defeated. Japan lost several of its aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway Island. As a result of the Japanese defeats at Guadalcanal and at Midway Island, Japan would not go on the offensive again during the war. Japan would now be in a retreating mode.

Once we won these battles, we could then begin to implement our strategy of island hopping. We would slowly retake islands in the Pacific that Japan had captured, often with a very high cost in terms of loss of life and equipment, until we got close enough to Japan to consider either continual bombing of Japan and/or an invasion of the Japanese islands. Several key battles occurred with this island hopping strategy. Examples of some these battles included those at Tarawa, Guam, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. As a result of this successful strategy, we were now in a position to take the final steps to defeat Japan in World War II.

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It is unfortunate that the answer by "larrygates" has been allowed to stand for four years, as it is fundamentally misleading with regard to the reason for the "island-hopping" strategy pursued by the United States in the war against Japan. The "island-hopping" strategy was not pursued because of the fanatical determination on the part of the Japanese soldiers who defended the series of small islands whose cost of conquering was astronomical in numbers of lives (over 111,000 American soldiers were killed in the battles to secure the chain of islands leading to the Japanese mainland, with tens of thousands more allied soldiers also killed). The strategy was pursued because of the limitations of the American bombers that existed during much of the war. Those limitations involved the range of the aircraft, which was too short to allow for the bombing of Japan from safer, more remote airbases. The islands had to be taken from their Japanese defenders so that airbases could be built that would allow American aircraft to reach closer and closer to the heart of Imperial Japan. B-25 bombers were very limited in range, and it wasn't until the introduction of the B-29 Superfortress that American bombers were able to reach Japanese targets from a greater distance. The series of airbases that were constructed with the invasions of the chain of islands leading closer and closer to the Japanese mainland were instrumental in facilitating direct bombing raids over Japan, and that was the reason for island-hopping.

In the end, of course, the Japanese emperor was compelled to surrender only after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the American aircraft having taken off from the very islands captured in the island-hopping strategy.

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The Allies basic strategy was one of "island hopping," that is, to take back one island at a time from Japanese occupation. A bit of luck was involved, as the American military had broken the Japanese Code, and knew Japanese war plans ahead of time. They were able to intercept the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Coral Sea and again the Battle of Midway Island, and destroy large portions of the fleet. Since Japan did not have the ability to replace lost ships, each ship lost was one less in its navy.

The island hopping strategy was necessary because of the determined fighting of individual Japanese soldiers for whom surrender was dishonorable and unthinkable. It was necessary to destroy all resistance in order to take the island. Eventually, the U.S. was faced with the decision of an invasion of the Japanese mainland islands, or use the Atomic Bomb. Strong factors argued for and against each; however the ultimate decision by President Truman was to use the bomb on Hiroshima and later Nagasaki. This was the final effort that brought about Japanese surrender and the end of the war.

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