Attack at Pearl Harbor

Kaci Power Professor Clark World Civ B April 24, 2012 The Attack at Pearl Harbor “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed in his speech to Congress. December 7th would indeed live in infamy for the rest of United States history. The day that the Japanese posted a surprise attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor was a day that would not only change individual lives, but would throw our country into an unforgettable shock.
The planning by the Japanese for this attack on Pearl Harbor began as early as January 1941. The United States had placed an embargo on Japan by prohibiting exports of steel, scrap iron, and aviation fuel to Japan, due to Japan’s takeover of northern French Indochina. In September 1940, the U. S. placed an embargo on Japan by prohibiting exports of steel, scrap iron, and aviation fuel to Japan, due to Japan’s takeover of northern French Indochina. April 1941, the Japanese signed a neutral stance treaty with the Soviet Union to help prevent an attack from that direction if they were to go to war with Britain or the U.
S. while taking a bigger chunk out of Southeast Asia. The U. S. demanded that Japan remove themselves from China and Indochina, but would have settled for a withdrawal and a promise not to take more territory. June 1941 through the end of July 1941, Japan occupied southern Indochina. Two days later, the U. S. , Britain, and the Netherlands froze Japanese assets. This prevented Japan from buying oil, which would cripple its army and make its navy and air force completely useless.

Toward the end of 1941 with the Soviets seemingly on the verge of defeat by the Axis powers, Japan seized the opportunity to try to take the oil resources of Southeast Asia. The U. S. wanted to stop Japanese expansion but the American people were not willing to go to war to stop it. Prior to December 1941, Japan pursued two courses: try to get the oil embargo lifted on terms that would still let them take the territory they wanted, and to prepare for war. The Japanese military was asked to devise a war plan. They proposed to weep into Burma, Malaya, the East Indies, and the Philippines.. They expected the U. S. to declare war but not to be willing to fight long or hard enough to win. Their greatest concern was that the U. S. Pacific Fleet, based in Pearl Harbor could ruin their plans. Although it was Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who initiated the plans for the attack against Pearl Harbor, Commander Minoru Genda was the plan’s chief architect. The Japanese used the code name “Operation Hawaii” for the attack on Pearl Harbor. This later changed to “Operation Z. The Japanese specifically chose to attack on a Sunday because they believed Americans would be more relaxed and less alert on a weekend. The Japanese navy decided to cripple the Pacific Fleet by a surprise air attack . The United States had received many warnings stating there would be an attack on Pearl Harbor. In October, the Soviets top spy, Richard Sorge, informed Kermlin that Pearl Harbor would be attacked in sixty days. Moscow had then informed him that this had been passed on to the United States. The United States completely ignored all mentions to an attack on Pearl Harbor.
On December 6th, Roosevelt had read the first thirteen parts of the translated declaration of war that the Japanese had sent to us. The document stated “This means war. ” This is when Roosevelt decided that it was time to proclaim war on Japan. Unfortunately, his decision did not reach Pearl Harbor in any helpful form before it was too late. The Japanese attack force stationed itself approximately 230 miles north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Early warning radar was new technology so the Japanese planes were spotted by radar before the attack, but they were thought to be a flight of American B-17s due in from the West Coast.
The attack started on December 7, 1941 at 7:55 am. The Japanese launched their airplanes in two waves, approximately 45 minutes apart. The first wave of Japanese planes struck Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a. m. The second wave reached Pearl Harbor around 8:40 a. m. I couldn’t find where the exact numbers of the people and supplies lost, but the Japanese managed to destroy approximately 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, and almost 200 airplanes. More than 2,000 Americans soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded.
In addition to the grievous loss of human life, war materials suffered. The Oklahoma and the Arizona battleships were destroyed. The Nevada, California, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Maryland were all extremely damaged or sunk. The day after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. Congress approved this with just one uncooperative vote. Three days later, Japanese allies Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States, and again Congress accepted. More than two years into the conflict, America had finally joined World War II.
The Japanese navy scored a brilliant success and assured their ultimate defeat. Before the events at Pearl Harbor, America was divided on the issue of war. More of the country wanted to let Europe sort out its problems by itself, because of the painful memories of the First World War. As tragic as this event was it opened the eyes of American to the reality of the situation at hand. Pearl Harbors Attack is a day that will be remembered by American for the rest of time. The lives lost and the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us.

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