Pearl Harbor wasn’t a singular event. It was the opening play in a long series of expansive territorial expropriations by the Imperial Japanese Network. It began in December 1926 when Hirohito took power as Emperor. By then Japan was already occupying Manchuria, a rich source of minerals and timber and other lucrative resources. The Japanese Army was also engaged in squashing Chinese nationalism. The Chinese were beginning to chafe at the ever-increasing presence of Japanese military personnel in their cities, and the replevin of Chinese assets by the Japanese outright. Jehoe, Chahar and Hopeh fell under the purview of the Japanese.
In 1933, outright war broke out between organized Chinese nationalists and the Japanese Army now occupying Beijing itself. In 1936, the Japanese Army captured Chaing Kaishek’s capitol city of Nanking, and began billeting Japanese Troops everywhere. Over the next few months, upwards of 350,000 Chinese citizens were murdered, some of them amid scenes of the most despicable grisly cruelty ever perpetrated by a modern army.
On December 7th, Japan struck the US Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor. The next day, Japan attacked Malaya, Burma and the Philippines. Massive naval bombardments and airstrikes followed by infantry invasions shocked the meager attenuated British and French defenders.
Also on December 8th, the Japanese attacked Wake Island and that raid lasted until the 23rd.
On December 9th, Japan occupied Tawara.
On December 10th, 1941, Guam succumbed to Japan.
On January 20th, Japan invaded and occupied Burma.
On January 23rd, 1942, Japan attacked and occupied Rabaul and continued attacks on the Solomon Islands to the East.
On February 7th, Japan attacked Singapore. It fell a week later.
On May 7th Corregidor fell to Japan forces.
It would be another three years before the US and Britain brought Japan to its knees.
Japanese Expansion Map
Source: War in the Pacific, Richard Overy. Osprey Publishing. 2010.