Introduction to United States economic sanctions against Japan, including an embargo on petroleum products, made war inevitable. Japan faced a choice – to choke in the ring of the economic blockade, or with honor die trying to get in a fight it needs resources.
Attack Pearl Harbor (Pearl Bay), or Japanese sources, the Hawaiian operation – is a sudden attack by a Japanese combo deck aviation aircraft carrier connections, Vice-Admiral Nagumo Tyuiti and Japanese midget submarines, delivered to the site of attack submarines, the Japanese Imperial Navy, the U.S. military naval and air bases in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii, which occurred Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. As a result of the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was forced to declare war on Japan and enter the World War II. Attack was a preventive measure against the United States aimed at eliminating the U.S. Navy, gaining dominance in the air in the Pacific region and the subsequent warfare against Burma, Thailand, the western U.S. possessions in the Pacific Ocean. Attack consisted of two air raids, as described in Why did Japan attack US?
It should be noted that the general background of the attack on Perl Harbor in July 1941was in the fact, that the Japanese fully occupied Indochina and the U.S. on August 1, 1941 froze Japanese financial assets and imposed a comprehensive trade embargo against Japan. After the embargo came to force, the Japanese Ambassador in Washington, and Secretary of State Cordell Hull held numerous meetings to discuss a possible way out in Japanese – American relationships, but a compromise could be agreed on three main reasons:
- Japan’s alliance with Nazi Germany and Italy;
- Japan wanted to establish economic control over the entire south-east Asia region;
- Japan refused to leave China.
It is essential to note that by the end of 1941, many observers believed that the hostilities between the U.S. and Japan was inevitable, and Pacific bases and facilities of the U.S. were state of alert for several times. However, the U.S. officials doubted that Pearl Harbor would be the first target of Japanese aggression. They expect that Japan will attack U.S. navy bases in the Philippines, since through them was supplied China. Moreover, American experts considered that the most likely target for Japan would be a naval base of the United States in Manila. Americans also mistakenly believed that Japan was not able to conduct more than one major naval operation at the same period of time. As a result, Americans waited the Japanese attack to the Philippines, but Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It should be noted that there were three main reasons for such step. The first reason was in the fact that after defeating Pacific American fleet, the Japanese had hoped to prevent its interference in the conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya region. The second reason was that Japanese had hoped to won the time, in particular Japan could strengthen its position and increase its naval force before the Vinson Walsh law of 1940 would come into force (this act provided increase of the U.S. naval forces for 70%) and the chances of the Japanese win in the conflict with the U.S. after this was greatly reduced. Finally, the attack was to strike a heavy blow to the morale spirit of the Americans and was supposed to deter the U.S. from participation in war in the western Pacific region. For maximum effect, as the main objectives the U.S. battleships were chosen, because they were the most prestigious vessels in any navy of the world at that time, as stated in Day of Lightning, Years of Scorn: Walter C. Short and the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which have been restored and returned to service in the end of the war), four more were damaged. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, mine-layer, destroyed 188-272 planes (according to different sources); casualties – 2,402 killed and 1,282 wounded. Power plant, shipyard, fuel and torpedo storage, piers, and building of the main control of the attack were not injured. Japanese losses were minimal: 29 aircraft, 4 small-sized submarines, together with 65 killed or injured military personnel.
Of course, after the attack U.S. army conducted investigation and first commission, headed by Owen Roberts, which was formed in December 1941 made its findings to the U.S. Congress in January 1942. The commission accused the officers of the base (Husband Kimmel and Walter Short) of dereliction of duty, especially concerning the defense of Pearl Harbor and the two men were relieved of their duties. However, the U.S. Senate voted for the officers’ rehabilitation in May 1999, but this document was signed neither by Clinton and Bush, as described in The Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Attack on Pearl Harbor was the main reason the U.S. entered the World War II. Because of the attacks, particularly because of its nature, public opinion in America has changed dramatically with the isolationist position in mid-1930s to direct participation in hostilities. On December 8, 1941, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the joint session of both chambers of Congress. The President demanded from 7 December, with the “day that will go down in history as a symbol of shame,” to declare war on Japan. Congress passed a resolution, as stated in Cause of the Pearl Harbor Attack.
In the hours that followed after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United Kingdom (and its colonial empire: Canada, Australia, South Africa) declared war against Japan. In turn, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy on December 11, 1941declared war on the U.S. Under the terms of the Tripartite Pact, Hitler and Mussolini were not obliged to declare war, but with the aim to support its ally, they declared war to the U.S. In the hours following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked various settlements and British and U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific: Malaysia, Hong Kong, Guam and Wake. Shortly after the events of Pearl Harbor, the bombers of the 11th Japanese fleet attacked the 7th fleet of the U.S. Air Force, which were based in the Philippines. On December 16, 1941 Japanese forces controlled the north of the island of Borneo, Hong Kong and in January 1942 captured Singapore.
Moreover, it is essential to note that after the Pearl Harbor attack more than 110.000 Japanese citizens and American origin were collected and monitored in internment camps (so-called War Relocation Centers). On February 19, 1942 Roosevelt signed Executive Order #9066, which concerned Western countries with focused Japanese populations; the camps were opened in remote areas of Washington, California and Oregon. However, the Japanese islands of Hawaii were not interned because the army and navy were in need of labor and Americans of Japanese origin were incorporated in the U.S. Army, in particular in the 442 Regimental Combat Team, that fought in Europe from 1943 and suffered heavy losses. In 1988, Congress officially apologized for these arbitrary arrests by passing a law that compensated the victims.
However, the main consequences of the Pearl Harbor attack assumed the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The number of dead from the direct impact of the explosion was from 70 to 80 thousand people. However, by the end of 1945, in connection with the action of radioactive contamination and other post-effects of the explosion, the total number of dead ranged from 90 to 166 thousand people. After five years, the total number of victims, taking into account deaths from cancer and other long-term impact of the explosion exceed 200 000 people, as described in The Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Also, it can be said that Pearl Harbor is still considered by Americans as one of the most important events in the history as it marked the first time since the War of 1812, when the U.S. was attacked by a foreign country. Sixty years later, journalists compared the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the attack on December 7, 1941. Moreover, many Japanese and American films have recounted this considerable episode in the World War II.
All in all, the attack of Pearl Harbor caused a lot of controversy. Principal Japanese general knew that for a compelling victory over the United States there was a need to break the U.S. Pacific Fleet, landing on the West Coast and fighting their way to get to Washington, that the ratio of economic and military potential of the two countries was totally unrealistic. Forced under pressure from the political elite to join the war, they have relied upon their only chance – with one powerful blow to inflict unacceptable damage on the United States and force them to sign a peace on terms favorable to Japan’s conditions. Fortunately, Pearl Harbor attack changed public opinion and the U.S. took active participation in the World War II, as stated in Why did Japan attack US?
To sum it up I would like to say that attack on Pearl Harbor was a sudden attack by a Japanese combo deck aviation aircraft carrier connections of the Japanese Imperial Navy to the U.S. military naval and air bases in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii, which occurred Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. This attack was a preventive measure against the United States aimed at eliminating the U.S. Navy, the winning of air supremacy in the Pacific region and the subsequent warfare against Burma, Thailand, the western U.S. possessions in the Pacific Ocean. Attack consisted of two air raids, which involved 353 planes emitted from six Japanese aircraft carriers. The U.S. suffered considerable loses, in particular 188-272 planes (according to different sources) were destroyed, 2,402 people were killed and 1,282 wounded. As a result of the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor the U.S. was forced to declare war on Japan and enter World War II. In my opinion, it is hard to overestimate the consequences of attack on Pearl Harbor, but I am convinced that one of them humanity will remember forever – atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Cause of the Pearl Harbor Attack. 2010. 11 May 2011. <http://www.truth-it.net/cause_of_the_pearl_harbor_attack.html>
Charles R. Anderson. 2011. Day of Lightning, Years of Scorn: Walter C. Short and the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Naval Inst Pr. 256 pages
Laurie Collier Hillstrom. 2009. The Attack on Pearl Harbor. Omnigraphics. 237 pages
Why did Japan attack US? 2011. 11 May 2011. <http://www.theamericancause.org/patwhydidjapan.htm>