Japan would never be able to conduct an attack on the United States’ soil as successful as their attack on the Hawaiian Naval harbor, Pearl Harbor, again. While that day would forever live in infamy other incidents would not remain as well known throughout American history. However, as unsuccessful Japan’s attempts to attack American soil the Empire’s attacks on American territories in the Pacific would be some of the most brutal incidents of war in history.
Even before Pearl Harbor there were Japanese attacks against the United States. The 1937 sinking of the USS Panay in the Yangtze River by Japanese air bombers almost brought an early start to the Pacific Theater.
Early peace negotiations would be difficult as the Japanese land artillery continued and fired on Britain’s HMS Ladybird as it was assisting the USS Panay. The Japanese military would officially claim they could not see any distinctive markings on either of the ships.
On December 7, 1941 at 7:41 in the morning the Japanese would surprise attack the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor killing thousands and damaging all of the US battleships. The slow moving bombers were able to take their surprised targets with ease.
The destruction of battleships like the USS Arizona would be the cause of death for most Americans at Pearl Harbor. The bombs dropped on the battleships would set off the ship’s artillery into the mainland.
The tiny Hawaiian island of Niihau was designated as an area for Japanese pilots to land damaged aircraft. When pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi crash landed on Niihau he was surprised to find native Hawaiians who captured the pilot after learning of Pearl Harbor’s bombing.
Days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Japanese submarines began firing on the Naval supply ship the USS Burrows on a delivery run to Johnston and Palmyra. The two atolls had their military fortifications damaged but there was no real long lasting effects.
The same day as the attacks on Pearl Harbor the Japanese navy would bombard the US Marine Base at Midway. The shelling would destroy the base’s power plant and hospital. Although the Japanese destroyers eventually retreated the US was growing ever more aware of their vulnerability to the Japanese.
One year after the initial shelling of Midway the Americans were prepared for another attack with reinforcements, ammunition, and Japanese code breakers. While the US did sustain some losses the Japanese had lost their element of surprise leading to thousands of casualties.
Japan would continually try to land an attack on American soil. Japan’s usage of submarines to bombard Southern Californian cities like Ellwood would be depicted by nationalistic Japanese in paintings. Ellwood was targeted for its vast oil field and marked the first bombardment of the US mainland.
Another submarine bombardment would take place at the Columbia River-based Fort Stevens. The bombardment caused little to no damage to Fort Stevens at worse damaging some telephone poles. The late night investigation would be captured on camera to contribute to a West Coast scare in the United States.
The only accounts of air raids over the United States’ homeland were a series in the Southern mountains of Oregon. The dropping of incendiary bombs from Japanese seaplanes were again meant to set off forest fires but to no avail.
Japanese helium filled “Fire Balloons” or “Fu-Gos” were cheap inflated contraptions meant to explode over the West Coast and cause widespread forest fires. In total they killed six people and were one of the last attempts of Japanese attacks against the United States homeland.
Although Japan’s attempts to attack American soil may seem laughable the Empire’s invasion of the US controlled Philippines was a devastating event in history. Only the upper classes were given any respect. Most Filipinos were loyal to the US leading to torture by the Japanese.
The 60 to 80 thousand Americans and Filipino prisoners of war captured early in Japan’s occupation of the Philippines were sent on the gruesome Bataan Death March. The march from the peninsula of Bataan to the city of San Fernando lasted 55 miles where hundreds died and all suffered torturous conditions from the Japanese.
The Japanese occupation of the Philippines would last until 1945. The final decisive battle being the US invasion of Luzon. The invasion would last for months despite US deception tactics and two large amphibious invasions, the first of which was code named S-Day.
With the occupation of Luzon and Mindanao the Japanese would finally surrender the Philippines to the United States in April 1945. Rogue Japanese troops would continue fighting until the official Japanese Empire surrender in August.