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Japan’s plan: The attack on Pearl Harbor (Fall 2012)

            Since 1638, Japan was an isolated nation; who avoided getting involved with the domination of European power. However, after many years of being isolated, they soon found out they were a feeble nation. “Spain, and then the United State took total brutal control of the Philippine islands, France subdue all of southern Asia—Indochina, Britain control all of middle Asia—China, and Russia restrain all of the northern Asia—Outer Manchuria” (The real reason Japan attacked Pearl Harbor). In addition, ultimately, European became powerful by setting monopoly trades in Asia.

             According to David Arendale, a history professor at the University of Minnesota, in the 1930s, Japan had an increasing population that was exceeding their nation. Furthermore, “Japan’s economy has begun to grow and to industrialize rapidly. Because Japan has few natural resources, many of the burgeoning industries had to rely on imported raw materials, such as coal, iron ore or steel scrap, tin, copper, bauxite, rubber, and petroleum” (Higgs, 2006). In this case, “the Japanese Empire was on an imperializing [sic] mission across Asia” (Yu). 

            Japan overran Manchuria, China on September 18, 1931. Japanese armed forces attacked and controlled several of Manchuria's strategic points with their planned attack. United States Secretary of State Stimson said this attack was long-planned, systematically planned, and was an act of aggression by Japan. Minister Johnson stated that this was no mistake or accident by irresponsible officials, but was convinced it was an act of war deliberately disregarding Japan's obligation under the Kellogg-Briand Pact of August 27, 1928. During this time the League of Nations was deliberating on the attack of Manchuria. Secretary Stimson informed Secretary General of the League of Nations, that that the League should in no way pull back it's vigilance, pressure, or authority toward regulating China and Japan's action.  Stimson also stated that any nations acting independently would reinforce what the League of Nation carry out. The United States called attention to both China and Japan about their obligations under the Kellog-Briand Pact. This Government was hoping for those countries to resolve their issues in a peaceful way which would have them keep their promises and public expectations around the world.  

            The Japanese Government continues to deny that they had any plans to take the Manchuria territory.  The Japanese continue to befriend China, but military operations continued to play out. Towards the end of 1932 Japan had literally destroyed the remaining administrative authority of the South Manchuria Government. The attacks and hostility continued between Japan and China during 1932 and spread into the Shanghai territory. Japanese Government asked United States to stop the hostilities, a proposal was made on February 2 stated that both sides cease all acts of hostility and withdraw from both sides from the Shanghai area. The Chinese government accepted the proposal, but the Japanese rejected certain points from the proposal which then made the proposal invalid to them.

            A proposal was made to the British Government by Secretary of State Stimson, that United States and the British Governments would invoke the Nine-Power Treaty and the Kellogg-Briand Pact to the conflict in the Far East. The British Government did not accept Secretary Stimson's suggestions and later introduced in the Assembly of the League of Nations as a ruling which was unanimously adopted. The resolution stated, "it is incumbent upon the members of the League of Nations not to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the Covenant of the League of Nations or to the Pact of Paris" (Japanese Conquest of Manchuria 1931-1932).  

            In 1933, the United States President was given consideration to the possibility of an arms embargo towards Japan. On May 17, 1933 the United States Government agrees that the conflict in China is the responsibility upon Japan and its action. Secretary Hull explained that it is not United States Government to use their authority to restore peace from the conflicts between China and Japan, and an aid in the arms embargo would not restore peace since Japan is already an important producer of arms sufficiently producing its own. The arms embargo on either country would decrease one or the other in arms supply and would not take any further actions.  Secretary Hull also stated that unless there is an agreement with Governments of all the great powers then there would be no action, "...which would insure against the effects of any retaliatory measures which the Japanese might undertake" (Japanese Conquest of Manchuria 1931-1932).  

            “In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina in an effort to control supplies reaching China” (Attack on Pearl Harbor). This event led the United States to block all exports from entering Japan except oils, because it would be too extreme if oil was cut off. The U.S relocated the pacific fleet to Hawaii and was order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to have a military buildup in Philippines, in hoping to repress Japanese invasion in Far East. Eventually, that did not stop Japanese expansion which then led the U.S to stop oil from exporting to Japan in July 1941. “This in turn caused the Japanese to proceed with plans to take the Dutch East Indies, an oil-rich territory” (Attack on Pearl Harbor). The interference of U.S made Japanese more angry and frustrated.      

Reasons for the Attack
            With other nation settling and invading Asia, Japan took that idea as a way to expand their nation. Furthermore, it benefits Japan in getting useful resources from other nation. In fear of Japanese expansion the U.S did not want Japan to conquer East Asia, because it will then provide Japan the advantage in destroying competitions. To stop Japan from expanding, the U.S decided to ban all exports of raw materials from entering Japan. In this case, “Japan lost more than 90% of its oil supply, and crippled their economy and military” (Why was Pearl Harbor attacked?).   During this time the U.S were still recovering from World War One and had not yet entered the Second World War.   

            Due to a failed negotiation between the Japan and U.S, Japan had two choices, they can either abandon expanding their empire or they can go to war with the U.S. This gave Japan one decision to make, as they did not want to lose face. They felt U.S already declare war against them by cutting exports, [so] why not attack them. 

            “Early in 1941, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, had initiated planning a surprise attack on the U.S Pacific Fleet at the beginning of any hostilities that the Japanese might undertake” (World War 2 Interview Questions).  With the plan of attacking U.S, Japan decided that hitting Pearl Harbor where the U.S pacific fleets were located was a good choice to make. Japan concluded that by destroying the U.S pacific fleets will give the U.S a harder time to recover and slow them down in attacking Japan. Furthermore, the plan of the attack would provide Japan more time to invade the Far East area without interference. In preparing the strategic, Japan trained their pilots, and ground troops on tactics that will be enforce upon the U.S. “There are approximately, 2,400,000 ground troops and 7,500 planes that were trained to succeed this mission” (Why was Pearl Harbor attacked?).    

            In November 1941, Chuichi Nagumo was the commander who led 30 ships, 6 aircraft carriers and 430 planes to Pearl Harbor. For the water attack, “there are 20 submarines assembled at Kure naval base on the west coast of Honshu to cooperate in the attack” (World War 2 Interview Questions). The ratio of successfully launching a sneak attack was 1/3. There is little chance U.S could recover from the attack blown.     

Attack on Pearl Harbor 
            On December 7, 1941 in Oahu, Hawaii, the plan attack on Pearl Harbor was initiated. Nobody knew about the attack and nobody knew about the Japanese warplanes that were launched and headed towards the island. The Japanese planes were launched from Japan's six largest and best aircraft carriers. The attack on Pearl Harbor had two goals, "the destruction of American aircraft carriers known to frequent area, and the sinking of as many other capital ships as possible, especially battleships" (Burbeck, 2008). With these two goals completed, Japan would be hoping to neutralize United States ability to use their air and sea units in the Pacific Basin for at least six months. 

            Japan's plans were to occupy the East Asian and West Pacific regions during the time of United States cripple. Allies would have to negotiate a settlement from Japanese aggression and control. Japanese created and planned their attacks based on American Navy's consistent habit of returning to its main port every weekend. Japan also had an alternative plan to attack the anchorage at Lahaina Roads, or pursue American fleets in the Hawaiian Islands area. These plans were last resort due to them initiating a direct attack, which Japanese fleets was willing to act if necessary. 

            The plan of attack was conducted by Commanders Mitsuo Fuchida and Minoru Genda. The plan envisioned by the two commanders was to organize the six carriers to use the passage between Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands. Once the carriers have reached north of Hawaii, two float planes would be launched on a scouting mission to assert American fleet presence. The scouting parties final report were to be forwarded to Japanese carriers and a deployment of its final point would be near. The Japanese high level bombers carried special converted 16" naval shells, which was capable of penetrating American carriers armor. The Japanese aerial torpedoes were also modified to allow launching in shallow waters during the attack. All preparations were carefully examined, planned, and executed by the Japanese commanders, if not, and then the tables could turn against the Japanese unpredictably.

            It was Sunday morning on December 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor when United State Pacific Fleet was bombed by Japanese aircrafts. At first, the American fleet thought the aircrafts were Americans, however, they soon found out they were being attacked by foreign aircrafts. The first attack took place at 7:53 AM, the second attack came at 8:55 and by 9:55 AM it was all over. The U.S started out with a force of 1,500,000 of which 1,000,000 were not completely trained, 1,157 combat aircraft and 347 war ships” when the Japanese attacked (Why was Pearl Harbor attacked?). The aftermath left “over 2,400 American dead, 21 ships had either been sunk or damaged, and more than 188 U.S aircraft destroyed” (Rosenberg). The attack shocked the American people and President Roosevelt that Japan would abandon its policy of isolationism. The attack on Pearl Harbor led United States to declare war on Japan the following day. 

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