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The basic causes of World War II were the nationalistic tensions, unresolved issues, and resentments resulting from the First World War and the interwar period in Europe, plus the negative reaction of the Roosevelt administration to the aggressive expansion of the Empire of Japan in the Far East in the 1930s.
The culmination of events that led to the outbreak of war are generally understood to be the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the 1937 invasion of the Republic of China by the Empire of Japan. These military aggressions were the decisions made by authoritarian ruling Nazi elite in Germany and by the leadership of the Kwantung Army in the case of Japan. World War II started after these aggressive actions were met with an official declaration of war and/or armed resistance.