The deeper we go into history, the more we realize how poor translations have been the reason behind many conflicts.
While the causes of WWII are deep and complex, the final scene likely stemmed from a single word.
As a response to the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, where the Allies called for Japanese surrender, Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki uttered, “Mokusatsu”. (黙殺).
The word means “ignore” or “withhold comment”.
Interpreting this word as a rejection of the declaration, the Allies likely decided then and there to go forth with their direct attack on Japan.
…and the rest is history.