Skip to main content


June 2024
1min read

“The Biggest Theater” includes a map depicting the “almost unimaginably huge theater of operations during the first months of war: the orange area… held by Japan.” Japan itself is shown in red. This implies that Korea, Manchuria, and Hong Kong were not held by Japan in 1942, that they were neutral or hostile to Japan. In fact, Korea had been annexed by Japan in 1910 and called Chosun. Manchuria, though the theoretically independent Manchukuo under the last Chinese emperor, Henry PuYi (the subject of the recent film The Last Emperor ), was in reality a satellite state of the Japanese Empire—and had been so since 1933. Hong Kong had fallen to the Japanese less than a month following Pearl Harbor.

Thus, Japanese Imperial power in the Pacific was even greater, and its threat to America even larger, than the map reveals.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.