The U.S. And Allies (including Australia) wanted nothing less than a total defeat of Japan. The Allies began beefing up their "…line of communications across the southern Pacific to Australia" and America also strengthened bases in Alaska, Hawaii, and India, which could become launching points for "counter-offences" against the Japanese (Coakley, 503)..
It was not an easy task, as Japanese fighters were dug in deep in Guadalcanal and the southern Solomon Islands and it took the 1st Marine Division and the 2nd Marine Division (plus Army divisions) to take over Guadalcanal, where they then built air and logistics bases. Coakley goes into great detail as his report continues with specifics of each battle and each point of resistance by Japan. Every troop movement, every battle fought by the newer and faster destroyers and aircraft carriers, every new strategy carried out by the Air Force, the Marines, the Navy and the Army are presented in precise detail by Coakley.
For example, the marines, after landing at Iwo Jima in February, 1945, with the 4th and 5th Marine Division, had to "…overcome fanatic resistance from firmly entrenched Japanese, who held what was probably the strongest defensive system American forces encountered during the Pacific War" (Coakley, 522). Indeed, it took a month of "bloody fighting to secure the island" but it was worth it because within a short time the Allies engineers had built a "heavy bomber field and another fighter base on the island" (Coakley, 521).
In April, 1945, a huge number of Marine divisions assaulted Okinawa, the island quite close to Japan; Japanese fighters allowed the Marines to land on the beaches but they fell back and prepared elaborate "cave and tunnel defenses on inland hills" (Coakley, 521). It took until June, 1945, for American marines to take control of Okinawa, and they were helped by "…great concentrations of naval, air, and artillery bombardment" (Coakley, 522). In the summer of 1945, the Allied forces (including enormously effective Australian units) had begun to bomb Japan ceaselessly. Planes from U.S. aircraft carriers, planes from American bases that had been set up in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Marianas and elsewhere hit Japan hard, including Japan's east coast, Coakley writes (525). Even the British got into the act; Germany had surrendered in May, 1945, so troops and planes were transferred to the Pacific Theatre to help destroy Japan; a British carrier was part of the Allied attack in July.
Some 150,000 American troops were sent to the Pacific Theatre when Germany surrendered; the idea was to get ready to launch an invasion of Japan on November 1. But that was not necessary after President Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb on August 6 (Hiroshima) and on August 9 on Nagasaki. The bombs would not have been necessary if Japan had agreed to surrender after the Potsdam Declaration in July, 1945, demanded that Japan surrender "promptly" (Coakley, 526).
By the end of the war, what Japan had started with its stunning, brilliantly executed attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allies succeeded in ending in a cloud of radioactive smoke and a hideously toxic device that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in the two cities mentioned in the paragraph above. Coakley writes (527) that the "…great arbiter of the Pacific war had been American industrial power, which produced a mighty war machine." The Japanese had figured that the vastness of the Pacific Ocean would be to their defensive advantage, however American technology and industrial might built fast carriers and destroyers that could carry the war "…deep into Japanese territory" (Coakley, 527).
Coakley calls the U.S. Pacific Fleet one of the "…greatest logistical developments of the war" and he alludes to the development and employment of amphibious assault techniques" a very important component of the victory over Japan.
In conclusion, the ability of Americans to "produce war goods" and the fact that Japan only had 10% of America's economic might and that Japan was "…very short of basic and vital minerals especially iron and oil" gave a tremendous advantage to the U.S. (History Learning Site). Moreover, American submarines targeted Japanese merchant ships that had been transporting goods from the mainland in Asia to Japan; indeed, American submarines sank about "…55% of the 8.9 million tons of shipping" that Japan depended upon for the war (History Learning Site). How could Japan actually believe they could win a war against America? That question will be asked in generations from now, but the answer isn't easy to present in any logical, reasonable way; chalk it up to fanaticism and arrogance, and the belief that the Japanese were superior people and hence superior fighters.
French, Howard W. 1999. Pearl Harbor Truly a Sneak Attack, Papers Show. The New York
Times. Accessed July 8, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com.
History.co.uk. 2005. Pearl Harbor. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://www.history.co.uk.
History Learning Site. 2004. The Far East 1941 to 1945. Accessed July 8, 2013, from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk.
Naval History & Heritage. 1999. Overview of the Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941.
Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://www.history.navy.mil.