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The Japanese occupation of the Philippines occurred between 1942 and 1945, when the Empire of Japan occupied the Commonwealth of the Philippines during World War II.

The invasion of the Philippines started on December 8, 1941, ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As at Pearl Harbor, American aircraft were severely damaged in the initial Japanese attack. Lacking air cover, the American Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines withdrew to Java on December 12, 1941. General Douglas MacArthur escaped Corregidor on the night of March 11, 1942 for Australia, 4,000 km away. The 76,000 starving and sick American and Filipino defenders on Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942, and were forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March on which 7,000–10,000 died or were murdered. The 13,000 survivors on Corregidor surrendered on May 6.

Japan occupied the Philippines for over three years, until the surrender of Japan. A highly effective guerilla campaign by Philippine resistance forces controlled sixty percent of the islands, mostly jungle and mountain areas. MacArthur supplied them by submarine, and sent reinforcements and officers. Filipinos remained loyal to the United States, partly because of the American guarantee of independence, and also because the Japanese had pressed large numbers of Filipinos into work details and even put young Filipino women into brothels.

General MacArthur kept his promise to return to the Philippines on October 20, 1944. The landings on the island of Leyte were accomplished by a force of 700 vessels and 174,000 men. Through December 1944, the islands of Leyte and Mindoro were cleared of Japanese soldiers. During the campaign, the Imperial Japanese Army conducted a suicidal defense of the islands. Cities such as Manila were reduced to rubble. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Filipinos died during the occupation.


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