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Inside Japan's War

The documentary series explores WWII from Japan’s perspective; the rise and fall of its empire and how Japanese citizens coped throughout this period.

By using a combination of archive material, personal accounts, expert interviews, graphics and contemporary images, a story unfolds revealing why Japan went to war. Having built an empire second only in size to that of the British, the documentary begins by looking at the country’s rise on the international stage. The political structure, the fervent nationalism and the meticulous and secret build-up of military power, all played a part in leading Japan to their surprise attacks in December 1941.

The astonishing growth of Japan’s empire in a matter of weeks results in rejoicing and every household receives a gift. However, due to the belligerent lack of cooperation between the Imperial Army and the Navy, only six months after Pearl Harbor the war begins to turn. The series goes on to examine the empire’s decline. The failure of their industries to keep up with military demands and the effect of blockades has an impact on the Japanese population. A growing awareness of the truth emerges, with domestic propaganda failing to measure up to its promises, as citizens are forced to live more frugally.  

Inside Japan’s War concludes with the US bombing of Japan and the devastation that ensued as the Empire collapses. Suicide bombing, slave labour, treatment of POWS and the country’s surrender are amongst some of the topics explored in this final episode.


  • In Production
4 × 50′
Produced by
Wildbear Entertainment in association with ZDF Enterprises.
Year of Production
Original language
As seen on
Available languages