The road to war between the United States of America and Japan began on the surprise aerial attack on the United States Navy base in Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. This was the first step that brought the might United States into the Second World War Relations between the two countries started to deteriorate in the early 1930’s when Japan started to become aggressive in Asia, mainly in Manchuria in 1931 and tried to start conquering the rest of China into 1937. Japan in 1940 decided to allied itself with the Axis with countries like Germany.
Japan, a vastly resource free country needed supplies such as oil from countries like the United States. With their aggression in Asia the United States decided to put an embargo on Japan and halt valuable resources such as oil which the Japanese empire need greatly to expand their mighty war machine . Japan had only enough oil reserves to fight a war for about six more months, something that they couldn’t stand to bear with and the only solution to counter this problem was to move further down south into the vast and oil rich areas of Southeast Asia.
With their aggression already in China, Japan wasn’t a very favored country in the United States, already banning immigrants from Japan and angering them even further they drew out plans to counter this problem and the only solution left was to destroy the United States Pacific fleet that had recently been shifted to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the United States President Roosevelt.
The United States of America’s Navy Pacific fleet was established way back in the late 1800’s but established their Headquarters on February 1st 1941 only 10 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Pearl Harbor was seen as impregnable by the United States. Having this massive United States Navy a stone throw away from Japan was of a large concern. If Japan was to take further aggressive action down south, the United States would be sure to come to the defense of their allies and stop the Japanese. The only option left was to eliminate the United States Pacific Fleet so they would have superiority over the entire Pacific waters and further their interest down south with little resistance if at all from the United States.
For months the Japanese Navy has been practicing simulations on the attack of Pearl Harbor, if the diplomatic talks in Washington DC had failed they were prepared to go to war at all costs . On the 26th of November, the Japanese set sail of a Navy task force of six heavy aircraft carriers, the Shokaku, Zuikaku, Kaga, Akagi, Hiryu and Soryu and accompanying these aircraft carriers were two battle ships sailing to Pearl Harbor spearheaded this task force was Admiral Chuchi Nagumo . The plan to attack Pearl Harbor was devised by Admiral Yamamoto, he wanted the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor to be neutralized so he could purse Japan’s goals in achieving domination.
The task force set sail and was to avoid detection by the United States Navy at all costs. If detected they were to set sail back home to Japan immediately. Admiral Chuchi Nagumo later learned that the United States Navy most prized possessions, their aircraft carriers were not in port but some carriers were doing training exercises while other carriers were stationed elsewhere and others delivering planes to remote Pacific islands . This was certainly a major downfall in the usefulness of the attack in the Pacific fleet but the attack was to go ahead, December 8th Japanese time which is December 7th the local date in Hawaii. Chatter was created on the radios in Japan to make the United States think that the aircraft carriers were at bay but this didn’t work.
The conditions were in favor of Japan, apart from the aircraft carriers belong to the United States Navy not in port, the weather with the heavy fogged helped provide good coverage over the carriers from overhead reconnaissance planes that were out looking for the missing Japanese carriers. All Japanese ships were to remain on radio blackout. Visibility over Pearl Harbor was clear, and this information was given over the local radio station in Oahu. In the early morning at 0600 hours the first launch of 183 aircraft, bombers laden with torpedoes and bombs, flanked by fighter aircraft escorting them they made their 1.5 hours journey to Pearl Harbor.
The attack on Pearl Harbor came at a great cost to the US but then again this is very debatable. During the two waves of strikes by the Japanese, only lost a total of twenty nine aircraft . This is a very small price to pay for the huge losses the United States Navy occurred, on that day, December 7th, 2403 people were recorded as dead, a further 1178 were injured, four battleships were sunk, the Oklahoma, West Virginia, California and the Nevada. The Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Maryland were damaged but the Maryland was put back into service in February 1942. Aircraft lost by the United States were massive as well, with aircraft parked tightly to avoid any sabotage; this made it easier for Japanese bombers. Out of the 394 planes based, 165 were damaged and only some still able to fly.
This attack on Pearl Harbor seemed like a success on the day for the Japanese and my view is that it seemed like this from both sides. The United States suffers a huge loss compared to the minimal loss suffered on the Japanese side. Japan now has put a major dent into the United States Pacific fleet and is able to further their goals down south but my personal view is that the attack created more problems for Japan the solving.
No aircraft carrier was in dock at all, the power of the Pacific fleet is with the might aircraft carriers. It did not sink, damaged or even find any of the aircraft carriers. All of the battleships that were sunk in Pearl Harbor were raised except the Arizona were repaired and put back into service thus making the United States Navy rely more on their carriers. The air raid on Pearl Harbor didn’t even attempt to destroy any of the logistics, logistics such as the vast supply of oil that was in dock, without this oil the United States Navy would not have been able to repair and return to service the battleships that were damaged at such a quick rate.
From the Japanese point of view, it can only be seen as a success that they were able to sink many battleships, destroy many aircraft and end the lives of many soldiers at such a small physical price. It is hard to determine whether this attack on this day was one of the biggest mistakes ever made by the Japanese empire, had they sent a third wave to destroy more of the logistics or if the aircraft carriers had been in port it may have changed the outcome of the war.
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