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Campaign overview

The success of the Japanese advance into South East Asia in late 1941 and early 1942 surprised even the most optomistic of army and navy planners. The attacks on 8 December 1941 against Malaya, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Wake Island, and Guam, were simultaneous with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. (The attack on Pearl Harbor was on 7 December local time, owing to the time zone difference.) The scale of the damage inflicted on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was perhaps less than anticipated. Nevertheless, it enabled Japanese forces to move against American, Dutch, British, and Australian colonies and forces in the region without fear of immediate air or sea support moving against them.

By March 1943, just 3 months after the start of the first stage of operations, key locations in the region had been occupied. While pockets of Allied resistance remained in the Philippines, and parts of the Netherlands East Indies, the Japanese had realised their objective and secured areas rich in natural resources, such as oil, rubber, and tin.

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