Japan attacked in China in 1937. Within a year, the Japanese had taken over a sizeable portion of Chinese territory. This included Guangdong province, a region that borders Hong Kong to the north. As a result, residents of these areas fled to Hong Kong, increasing the population on the island to just over 1.5 million.
On the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, Japanese soldiers invaded Hong Kong from the north. The attack on the Pearl Harbor prompted the British forces to join the war against Japan, primarily because they were an ally to the US. Consequently, the British Allied troops shifted from the new territories and Kowloon to the Hong Kong Island. After a short period of fighting, the British were defeated and forced to surrender, an event known as the ‘Black Christmas.’
The victory over the Allied forces meant that Japan was now in charge of the Hong Kong Island. At the time, individuals from Britain and other countries loyal to the Allied forces lived in camps. On the other hand, the Chinese natives living in Hong Kong fled to mainland China.
The emigration had an adverse impact on the economy of Hong Kong. The local currency was devalued, and trade reduced by a substantial margin. Also, three was a severe shortage of food.
Four years later, the British Royal Navy came in to reinstate their rule on Hong Kong. At the time, the war had decimated the island’s population significantly, with the population reducing to just 600,000 people.