Why Did Japan Attck Pear Harbour and What Were the Consequences

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Modern History Essay

Area of Study: Pearl Harbor

Question: Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor and what were the consequences that Japan faced?

On the dawn of the 7th of December 1941, the unfolding of the strategic surprise attack on Pearl Harbor which had been planned in secrecy several months in advance by the empire of Japan took place and was known and remembered by many as the day of infamy (Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 7th 1941). The surprise attack executed by the Japanese military code named Kido Butai on Pearl Harbor resulted in many casualties to both the Japanese and American forces. Most importantly the accomplishment of Japans main goal of destroying the possible threat of the United States pacific fleet. Although the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was extremely successful, it also consequently for the Japanese resulted in the awakening of the sleeping giant (Isoroku Yamamoto, December 7th 1941).

Pearl Harbor is a simple bay located on the island of Hawaii west of Honolulu. The majority of the Harbor and surrounding land belongs to the United States deep water naval base and also home of the United States Pacific fleet.

Many months before the attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese empire began a southward expansion invading China and much of south East Asia hoping to acquire the rich resources of Asia. The United States strongly opposed this aggression and demanded that Japan stop its actions but the Japanese empire ignored the demands. In December 1937 the dispute between Japan and America was only fuelled when Japanese planes sank the United States river gunboat "Panay", fortunately this crisis was only temporarily resolved by Japanese apologies and reparations.

As further tension grew between the two nations, the United States enacted an embargo on Japan prohibiting all exports of steel, scrap iron, aviation fuel and petroleum to Japan. As a result the Japanese military and navy leaders knew that there imperial navy would be immobilize, without the exported petroleum Japan was faced with no other option but to set December 1941 as the absolute deadline for a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, beyond which Japan could not wait.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was planned out very well by the Japanese, due to knowing that the American ships were in port on Sunday the 7th of December 1941 and also where each ship was located. The Japanese pilots had maps, photos and models of the bay so they would be prepared and also able to distinguish their main targets. At the time of the attack the Japanese infantry advanced in two separate striking forces. The attack consisted of over three hundred Japanese planes all six of Japan's first-line aircraft carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, Zuikaku and also many fast battleships, torpedo bombers, destroyers, submarine and midget sub's.

In the early morning of December 7th 1941 at approximately 7:55am the leader Mitsuo Fuchida led the first attack wave to Pearl Harbor. The first strike force consisted of 180 aircraft , included torpedo bombers, high level bombers and fighters. The unprepared and unsuspecting American military on Oahu had little or no warning about the attack and were very surprised and shocked when they heard the loud noises of the Japanese planes. Not long after the first raid at approximately 8:45am a second strike force of Japanese infantry reached the shores of Pearl Harbor with about the same number of planes. Near Oahu's southern shore five midget submarines were released from their mother sub's and were trying to enter Pearl Harbour's narrow entrance channel. The Japanese infantry were mainly targeting the United States pacific fleet and at the same time managed to hit the air bases which included Hickam field, Wheeler field, Ford Island and also many United States Battleships. At the end of the attack which had lasted for about four hours, 2,330 Americans were dead and 1,347 were wounded, 188 American...
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