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The USA and Japan, 1941-52

2. Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima (1941 - 1945)

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About this Lecture


In this module, Christopher looks at the Japanese attack on Pearl Habour on 7 December 1941, "a date that will live in infamy", and the subsequent war in the Pacific. In the first instance, things go Japan's way, with expansion into Singapore, the Philippines, and Burma. However, the tide turns after the Battle of Midway and the Americans begin 'island-hopping' their way back to Japan. But the Japanese prove incredibly stubborn in their resistance to the US assaults - as shown in particular by the Battle of Okinawa. In order to get the Japanese to surrender, the Americans turn to extraordinary measures - the atomic bomb.


In this course, we explore the relationship between the United States and Japan between the attack on Pearl Harbour to the San Francisco Peace Conference and the end of US occupation of Japan. In six modules, we explore the relationship between the two countries up to 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbour and the Pacific War, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the beginnings of the Cold War and US interest in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, and US occupation of Japan, including the writing of the Japanese constitution in 1947 and the 'reverse course', when things started to heat up in Korea and Vietnam.


Christopher grew up in London before heading ‘up north’, as it seemed at the time, to Oxford University. Following an undergraduate degree in History, he was the co-founder of a company producing music for the computer games industry, before being lured back into academia via an MSt in Historical Research and then a DPhil in South Asian history, both at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

In 2004 he had the opportunity to go to Japan for a couple of years on a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship, studying the language intensively, working on some comparative South Asia – Japan research, and training and working as a journalist with Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun.

He returned to the UK at the start of 2007 to take up a post at Edinburgh University, where he now researches and teaches on both South Asia and Japan.

In April 2012 he was privileged to be the recipient of the EUSA Teaching Award for Best Course (Pioneers of Cultural Communication 4MA) and to receive the Runner Up award for Innovative Teaching.

He is one of AHRC/BBC's ten New Generation Thinkers for 2013, with contributions to Radio 3's Nightwaves beginning in June 2013.

Chris can be found on X (formerly Twitter) at @drchrisharding, while he also writes an Asian history newsletter (

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Harding, C. (2018, August 15). The USA and Japan, 1941-52 - Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima (1941 - 1945) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Harding, C. "The USA and Japan, 1941-52 – Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima (1941 - 1945)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,