Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor essay


Pearl Harbor is located in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Hawaii. It is therefore nearer to Japan than the US. During the Second World War, Japan had been involved in efforts to claim a territory in Southern Asia. The Japanese believed that the country had limited resources and therefore needed to conquer and take up an empire, just like the British and other western countries were doing.

The US had not been involved in the Second World War and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been the leader in criticizing the war that was led by Germany, especially the strategies that were adopted like bombing the big cities to target civilians. However, the US had mobilized its forces, including the navy, to help safeguard its borders in case of any attack. Pearl Harbor was a strategic location in the Pacific Ocean and the US mobilized its navy and staged them there. The constant criticism of the war by the US led many to believe that it was just a matter of time before the US joined the Second World War. This would thwarter the plans of other countries like German and Japan since the US was steadfast in its objection of the concept of communism and communist ideologies.

Japan, being a communist nation at that particular time, must have felt the fear of US involvement in the war and how it will affect their plans. Based on this fear, this paper is going to establish what the real reasons were for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and how it impacted on their plans to acquire an empire in the Southern Asia (China).

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Reasons for the Bombing

The US administration, led by President Roosevelt, had shown clear indications that they will not allow communism to spread across the world. As such, Japan knew that the US would interfere in their efforts to claim an empire in Southern Asia. They therefore decided to launch a surprise attack on the US naval fleet in the Pearl Harbor, an attack that left the entire pacific fleet of the US navy crippled and over 2,400 Americans killed while 1,200 were wounded. The initial plan was for the Japanese navy and fighter planes to travel all the way to the American coast and carry out the attacks also in large cities like San Francisco. However, they were detected and, on realizing this, the Japanese forces decided to attack only the Pearl Harbor and avoid risking the long journey to the American coast.

When Japan got involved in the Chinese war, President Roosevelt of the US embarked on efforts to devise ways of making Japan withdraw from china. President Roosevelt eventually decided to carry out an international campaign to isolate Japan economically by denying Japan credit that would allow it to purchase petroleum, which was and still is a vital economic and military commodity. Japan usually received petroleum from the US, Dutch East Indies and Burma. The campaign by President Roosevelt included these three countries and therefore effectively denied Japan the power and freedom to acquire petroleum. Japan however could not accept to withdraw from the Chinese war yet and instead decided to attack the US naval fleets. The Japanese reasoning was that if they managed to eliminate the US naval fleets in the pacific, it would be almost impossible for the US to interfere in their quest to occupy oil producing areas of the South East Asia. They also believed that even if the US naval fleets at the pacific rebuilt after they had taken over the targeted areas, they would not be able to repel them off the lands because they would have overcame the economic consequences of the US campaign.

Perhaps the most important factor that led Japan to attack the American Pearl Harbor is the psych that they established after reviewing the US as a society and then as a nation with so much diversity. The people of Japan, especially the Yamato Race, argued that having a diverse culture and people, the US were incapable of holding together as a united body in the events of war. They could not understand how such a society made up of people who had merely went to the land to seek better means of survival, would hold up together. The Yamato Race even considered the Americana a trash people who were supposed to be under their sub servants. They therefore considered them a feaable challenge and that they would be disheartened by a devastating strike, like was in the Pearl Harbor attack.

This belief cause a general feeling that Japan would win any war against the US since they were more united and organized. There was also a general belief that once Japan had defeated America in a major war, the people of America would come to accept the superiority of Japan.


The attack on the Pearl Harbor was a devastating point in time of American history. More people were lost than had been in any single attack before. The attack led to the US, who was initially non-committal, to enter the world war two by declaring war against on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy also declared war on the US. Although the contribution of the US in to the activities of the allied forces made them successful in winning the war, more than 400,000 Americans had lost their lives by the end of the war in 1945. Japan had also suffered immensely as a result of their actions, especially through the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The debate that remains up to date however is who between Japan and America triggered the war between them that caused the loss of so many lives in the holocaust that was to follow in the Second World War. On one side, the US is seen to have overstepped its boundaries by trying to contain the Japanese occupation of oil producing areas of the South East Asia causing Japan to Retaliate. And on the other hand, the Japanese are viewed to have attacked the US because it was “Hell bent on war”, causing the US to retaliate in the holocaust that was the World War II.

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