Conflict in the Pacific essay
Question: Analyse the strategic and political reasons for bombing Pearl Harbour.
There were numerous strategic and political reasons that lead to the bombing of Pearl Harbour on December 7th, 1941. However nationalism, militarism and imperialistic notions were key influential factors, which together contributed to the almost complete annihilation of the US Pacific fleet. Based on Japan’s nationalistic beliefs of superiority over Asian nations, the surprise attack attempted to fulfill a change in the balance of power within South East Asia and expose the vulnerability of the West.
Portraying Japan’s notions of nationalism and desires for imperialistic gain, the attack on Pearl Harbour was planned, after months of dissention among the ranks of army command, by Commanders Mitsuo Fuchida and Minoru Genda, who strongly believed that the future of naval warfare would be decided by aviation. To fulfill its militaristic and imperialistic aims, the attack needed to destroy aircraft carriers, attack submarine bases and oil reserves and to destroy the US base to the extent that the Americans would have to relocate to the West coast, therefore, giving the Japanese the opportunity to take control of the Pacific. Although many of these aims were achieved most were nullified, as the Americans were able to quickly recover from the blow. Not only did the success of Pearl Harbour depend completely on the strategic element of surprise, the Japanese attack was formulated for Pearl Harbour to surprise the enemy and expose the vulnerability of the West, thus portraying Japan’s notions of nationalism and superiority. The Japanese implemented the element of surprise by deceiving the US government. They achieved this by convincing the US government that Japan would not attack, whilst the Japanese Navy steamed towards Hawaii. Although most officials believed this peace claim, others were hesitant. There was also no warning of the attack because the commanders of Pearl Harbour, Kimmel and Short, had to rely on officials in Washington to make interpretations of the Japanese signals. These, however, were clearly misinterpreted by the US, and thus the Japanese successfully attacked Pearl Harbour without any warning, showcasing their military superiority.
The Japanese attack strategy also engaged the element of surprise because the waters of Pearl Harbour were portrayed as too shallow for ordinary weapons and it was not yet identified that the Japanese were exceptionally well prepared for any eventuality and had left nothing to chance. To illustrating their military superiority, the modifications made to aerial torpedoes allowed their launching in very shallow waters unlike ever seen before. They also created 16-inch navel shells capable of penetrating the heaviest American battle ships, which would cause such colossal damage making salvage impossible. These detailed preparations were in place because of the enormous risk of the entire operation and to ensure the highest chance of achieving surprise and therefore success.
Pearl Harbour was devised with the strategic aim of acquiring resources to fulfill nationalistic and imperialistic aims. As a result of the Allied oil Embargo, which was implemented by the US in June 1941, the Japanese were in serious need of resources in order to continue war with China. They had two options. Firstly, to give in to the Chinese and secondly, to fulfill imperialistic aims and seize the oil reserves on the Dutch East Indies and the rubber in Malaya, however they chose to expand and conquer resources. Before they attempted this, they believed it essential to remove any viable threats, and with Britain, France and the Netherlands greatly weakened as a result of the war in Europe, the US was the only possible obstacle to Japan’s expansion. “The US Pacific Fleet provided a real deterrent to Japanese expansion,” therefore, by destroying the American fleet, Japan could quickly...
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