The Causes of Pearl Harbor
After World War I, Japan’s industrial and military power increased, but the modernization of Japanese society caused political conflict. Labour unions, leftists, and liberal political parties called for reforms in government ad the economic system. Conservatives feared that such dissent was dangerous to the nation. Ultranationalists and the military scorned Japan’s limited democracy, which had been created by the constitution of 1889, and demanded that people give total obedience to the Japanese emperor. Political tensions were made worse by a faltering economy, which neared collapse after the Great Depression began in 1929 (Shapiro 2004).
By the early 1930’s, Japanese politics and government had become dominated by aggressive militarists who crushed all political opposition. They believed that Japan’s future as military, economic, and political power required territorial expansion in the countries of the western Pacific, especially China. They hoped to establish an empire that would supply the natural resources Japan needed for further industrial development (Halter 2006). They also hoped to challenge the dominance of the Western colonial powers in the Far East.
Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the causes of Pearl Harbor.
A. Causes of Pearl Harbor
Military Expansion. In September, 1931, Japanese army officers contrived “Mukden Incident” (a bomb explosion falsely blamed on the Chinese), giving them an excuse to attack and conquer Manchuria, which was then set up as a puppet state called Manchukuo. In January, 1932, the Japanese bombed and occupied Shanghai. These acts aroused indignation throughout the world; in response to protests at the League of Nations, Japan withdrew from the league (Morison 2003).
A minor clash between China and Japanese patrols near Beijing on July 7, 1937, was an excuse by the Japanese to launch a general war against China. The United States and other nations refused to recognize the legitimacy of its conquests (Winton 2006). War between the United States and Japan was narrowly averted in late 1937 after Japanese airplanes sank the American gunboat Panay in Chinese waters; Japan apologized and paid damages.
Diplomatic Negotiations. In October, 1941, General Tojo Hideki became premier of Japan. Soon after, Japan demanded international recognition of its conquests in China and the right to buy oil in the Netherlands East Indies. Saburu Kurusu was sent to the United States in November as a special envoy to conduct negotiations between Japan and the American government. At the same time, convinced that negotiations would achieve nothing, Japan was secretly preparing for war against the United States. The United States pressed for an end to Japanese aggression in China and Japan’s withdrawal from French Indochina (Taylor 2004). Japan, however, issued a declaration of war, which was not delivered until after the surprise attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
Moreover, Japan intended to extend its empire, which is called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, over most of the Pacific, and made haste to seize islands to use as bases to protect its conquests. The Japanese expected to fight a limited war (Dupuy 2005). Once they had won the territory they wanted, they intended to defend it until the Allies were worn out and willing to negotiate for peace.
Japan had a large, well-trained, experience army of 120 divisions. Its troops were courageous, highly skilled in tactical operations, and ably led. The Japanese navy, immediately after Pearl Harbor, was much stronger than the United States Pacific Fleet. The quality of Japanese weapons was good.
B. The War with Japan
Pearl Harbor. Eight of the 15 battleships of the U.S. Navy were at Pearl Harbor when Japanese carriers launched their planes on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack came as a surprise. The greatest loss was to the fleet of battleships. The Arizona was destroyed and the Oklahoma capsized (Shapiro 2004). The West Virginia and California were sunk in shallow water and the Nevada was beached. Three cruisers and three destroyers were damaged. The fleet’s carriers, by a stroke of good fortune, were at sea and escaped the attack. The Pearl Harbor attack put the United States Pacific fleet temporarily out of action—most of the ships were eventually refloated and repaired—allowing Japan to proceed with its conquests with comparative ease. But Pearl Harbor also had a harmful effect on Japan—it instantly united the American people behind the war effort (Taylor 2004), dashing all Japanese hopes for a negotiated peace.
Investigations of the Pearl Harbor disaster showed that the United States government was aware of the possibility of a Japanese attack, but had not considered Hawaii a probable target and had not definitely warned the command there. A radar warning on the spot was ignored (Winton 2006).
In conclusion, the causes of Pearl Harbor were all because of the greediness of Japan to extend its territory and its betrayal to American government when it had a negotiation for peace. The Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, brought United States into World War II. About 2, 300 servicemen and 60 civilians were killed and the United States fleet was severely crippled.
Dupuy, T.N. (2005). The Military History of World War II (21st volumes; Watts)
This discussed the events that has caused Pearl Harbor breakthrough. It has thorough illustrations how Japanese navy and American navy battled in the Pearl Harbor.
Halter, J.C. (2006). Top Secret Projects of World War II (Dutton)
The author has used various materials in order to get the precise information about the causes of Pearl Harbor. This talked about the reasons why there was a battle between Japan and America that led to World War II.
Morison, S.E. (2003). The Two-Ocean War: a Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War (Little, Brown)
The writer scrutinizes the Japanese interests in expanding its territory that promoted chaos with the countries it invaded; thus this action done by the Japanese has led to battle in Pearl Harbor where a lot of American navy were injured and died.
Shapiro, M.J. (2004). Behind Enemy Lines: American Spies and Saboteurs of World War II (Messner)
This study simply illustrates how achieved Japanese invaded Asian countries that promoted aggression to other nations specifically America that had an encounter with the Japanese in the Pearl Harbor.
Taylor, Theodore (2004). Air Raid Pearl Harbor: the story of December 7, 1941 (Cromwell)
The author has thoroughly discussed the events happened during the battle happened in Pearl Harbor. It literally figures out how Pearl Harbor was attacked and how many lives were taken because of the aggression ignited by Japanese empire.
Winton, John (2006). The War in the Pacific (Mayflower Books)
The study has given illustrations on the war in the Pacific. The researcher/writer of the book has investigated the causes and effects of Pearl Harbor and what has it brought to the United States as well as to the Japanese empire that wished to expand its territory.
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