On June 21, 1945, Japanese troops were defeated on the Pacific island of Okinawa after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II. Having seized the Ryukyu Islands from Japanese control, the United States next prepared to launch an onslaught against the Japanese mainland.
In September 1940, Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers and established a base in French Indochina. One year later, Japan moved troops to southern French Indochina and was poised to move against the Netherlands Indies, seeking to acquire an oil source.
When the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan, that country responded quickly with an attack against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Japanese military forces occupied the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, and Singapore in rapid succession, and invaded Burma and Thailand, achieving its goal of complete control of the South Pacific.