Japan was eager to expand its influence across Southeast Asia and branded itself as a leading figure against European colonialism as it advanced into territories held by powerful European nations such as Britain, France and the Netherlands. Japan’s first territorial targets of the war were the islands of the Dutch East Indies, which were a tantalizing prize due to their abundant oil deposits. Beginning at the end of December 1941, Japanese forces landed at a number of points in Borneo and began seizing territory against resistance from a combined Allied force consisting of British, Dutch, American and Australian troops. Three Japanese forces, western, central and eastern, were each assigned a target area and advanced quickly into enemy territory thanks to superior troop numbers and naval strength. Seizure of airfields at Tarakan and Balikpapan on 17 and 28 January respectively provided a firm footing from which air superiority could be established and paratroops dropped. The territories of the Dutch East Indies fell like dominoes with Java finally surrendering on 8 March.
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