Consequences of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

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It’s early morning, almost eight o’clock, when the residents of Pearl Harbor wake up. Walking outside, they hear an odd noise and look up to see Japanese planes dropping giant bombs out of the sky onto their home. The Japanese executed the attack in the midst of World War II. There were thousands of casualties, hundreds of ships destroyed, and the United States entered the war as a result. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which catapulted the United States into World War II, and effected America forever.

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The Japanese military chose Pearl Harbor as their target because the United States were trying to stop their expansion plan. Japan hoped that after the bombing, the Americans would accept defeat and let them continue to take over the Pacific Rim. The capitals of both countries consulted for months, with the US trying to bring Japan’s expansions to a full stop. These efforts resulted in Japan becoming angrier at America and swayed Japan to refuse stopping it’s development (Pruitt). Tensions between America and Japan had been growing for months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The United States attempted to suspend their extension time and time again, which just resulted in Japan’s rage growing rapidly each time. War was unavoidable for Japan and the United States, and surprising the US navy immediately in order to weaken its power was crucial to Japan’s plan. The Japanese wished to take over the Philippines and Malaysia during America’s recovery time over the fleet of ships Japan was planning on exterminating. Malaysia and the Philippines were also attacked at the same time as Pearl Harbor (Why Did Japan Attack Pearl Harbor?). Because the impending war between the United States and Japan was so apparent to both sides, Japan knew that the only way they could have the upper hand would be by using the element of surprise. Japan had thought that the United States would give up trying to suspend their expansion plans. The Japanese figured that after Pearl Harbor, their empire would span across the Pacific Rim (Why Did Japan Attack Pearl Harbor?). After the bombing, Japan expected America to take long enough recovering and gathering itself that they could easily take over their other targets. Pearl Harbor was a powerful naval base that the Japanese saw as a threat, so they decided to do their best to eliminate it. The bombing had many results, but American defeat was not one of them.


Pearl Harbor forced everyone in the United States into a wartime mindset, and Americans everywhere became way more involved with the war. After only a few hours, Americans were making fast moves to prepare themselves for war. Everyone became much more involved with the war effort, with people constantly asking themselves what they could do to help (Morella). Americans everywhere worked as fast as they could to contribute to healing their wounded country. Everyone wanted to become a part of the solution, as well as being prepared as much as they could. The United States initially did not want to be forced into war, and only agreed at first to go to fight Japan. Only after Germany and Italy declared war on America did we finally join the European front (LoProto). If they could, the United States wanted to avoid entering a full-blown world war. The initial plan was to go to war with Japan alone, but the other Axis countries both announced declarations of war against America. Only after that did the country decide to fight alongside the Allies against all opposing countries on the European front. The United States used Pearl Harbor to dignify the fact that they forced citizens of Japanese-American and Japanese ethnicities to be imprisoned in internment camps throughout the war (“Results of the Attack on Pearl Harbor”). Not every outcome from Pearl Harbor resulted in Americans banding together. Thousands upon thousands of citizens of Japanese descent were forced into internment camps for the duration of the war, with the United States claiming they did not know which of the Japanese citizens they could trust. Pearl Harbor changed many aspects of America in 1941, but the people most affected by the bombing were the citizens of Pearl Harbor itself.


Hawaii endured a devastating event, and came through to the the other side with some drastic changes to their way of life. On December 7, 1941, Hawaii was not yet a state. Instead, it was a US territory. Following the attack, officials in Hawaii declared martial law. This enforced a curfew on the island and temporarily took away a few civil liberties to keep the residents of the island safe (How Did Life Change in Hawaii and Pearl Harbor after the attack?). Pearl Harbor had a massive impact on America itself, and one of the craziest aspects of the situation is that Hawaii wasn’t even a US state at that point in time. Very soon after the bombing, certain procedures were put into action by higher-ups so that the citizens of Hawaii could be safe and secure. Almost everything within the Hawaiian Islands came to an abrupt halt after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, including the industries of Oahu, normal life for the population, and especially tourism (The Impact Of World War II On Hawaii). Hawaii’s economy was affected because they not only had to repair damages the bombs cost, but industries there stopped altogether and tourism came to an immediate end. Over 2,000 American sailors and soldiers were killed, and an additional 1,000 were hurt. Almost 200 naval vessels and around 200 airplanes were completely eradicated by the unexpected bombing (Pearl Harbor Changed Pearl Harbor Irrevocably). There were thousands of casualties as a result of this tragedy, and thousands of dollars worth of damage made to the naval ships and other buildings and places damaged in the bombing. Hawaii was changed forever after the attack, and the history of the United States was set on another path altogether.


When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States were propelled into the war and the country was never quite the same again. Japan was angered by the Americans halting their expansions on the Pacific Rim. They used the element of surprise to attack the naval base in Pearl Harbor in hopes the United States would give up. The attack resulted in Americans having a mindset that was all about the war effort and how they could contribute. The United States didn’t initially want to enter World War II, but once other countries declared war against America, we officially joined the war. Hawaii was put under extra security after the attack to make sure nothing like it happened ever again. Though the people of Hawaii were glad to be safe, the martial law put into action negatively affected their economy greatly by stopping tourism and industries on the island of Oahu altogether. Thousands were injured or killed during Pearl Harbor, and that monumental turn of events in American history is something we will never forget.

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Consequences of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (2019, Jun 24). Retrieved March 24, 2023 , from

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