FFE Magazine

Philippine hiStory Today: The War comes to the Philippines

The Allied forces imposed trade embargo (no goods, no oil) on Japan to prevent them from strengthening their military and invading more Asian countries. At this point, America silently boosted their military presence in the Philippines as a safety net just in case Japan decided to make good their threat. This was 1941; America was still in our country and has been since Spain left in 1898.

 

Asian heads of state who attended the Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo President of the Second Republic of the Philippines Jose P Laurel (second from right) poses with Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo (centre) and other Asian delegates to the conference

Asian heads of state who attended the Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo
President of the Second Republic of the Philippines Jose P Laurel (second from right) poses with Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo (centre) and other Asian delegates to the conference

 

Part of the first wave of American forces to come to the Philippines was US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) commander Douglas MacArthur. As he was preparing the country for war, Japan already made up its mind against the pressuring Allied presence in the Pacific and declared war in the region. The plan was to seize all European outposts and take the badly needed resources by force.

 

Map of Asia and Japan’s planned sphere of influence

Map of Asia and Japan’s planned sphere of influence

 

The plan included taking down the growing American presence in the region. That meant that the Philippines was a direct target.

 

8 December 1941

 

Many of you might have heard the famous Infamy Speech by American president Franklin Roosevelt that goes ‘December 7, 1941 … a date which will live in infamy.’ Technically, in Asia the bombing of the American base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was the 8th of December. That day signaled the beginning of war in Asia.

 

The battleship USS Arizona had the most number of casualties during the bombing of Pearl Harbor

The battleship USS Arizona had the most number of casualties during the bombing of Pearl Harbor

 

Nine hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the first Japanese bombers dropped their missiles at the American base Clark Field in Pampanga at 12:40pm. The American defense was, despite early warnings, completely taken by surprise and unable to recover from the attacks.

 

The next day, the Allies formally declare war against Japan. At the same time, the first wave of the Japanese 14th Army landed in Luzon and began its invasion of the Philippines.

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