The Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor took place in December 1941; this is after a long period of clouds of war gathering over the pacific part of the world. This was a surprise attack by Japan on the naval base of the United States which was based at the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The casualties of the attack were massive since 2,400 Americans lost their lives while 21 ships were either damaged or sunk and approximately 188 United States aircraft were destroyed (Davenport 2009, 27). The Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor angered and outraged the United States government to the extent that America abandoned its isolationist policy and immediately after the attack, it declared war against Japan hence this marked the official engagement of United States of America on the World War 11 (Beekman 1992, 19).
The main reason for the attack was because the Japanese government was getting impatient of its negotiation with United States. Japan wanted to continue with their expansion within the Asian continent but United States had always been placed restrictive total embargo on Japan as its perceived measure of curbing the aggression of Japan. It was this state of affairs that the negotiations to solve the differences had not gone well with Japan. Instead of acceding to the demands of United States, the government of Japan decided to initiate surprise attack on United States with an intention to annihilate the naval power of United States of America even without giving official information of impending war (Stillwell 1981, 21).
The Japanese had prepared and practiced for the attack on the Pearl Harbor, although they understood that the planned attack was a risky and a disastrous venture. The probability of any success of the attack heavily depended on a total surprise. The journey of the attack started with a 3,000 mile journey across the pacific that involved sneaking several aircraft carriers, battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers and submarines across the ocean; this was not a simple task. Japanese was worried that they could be spotted by other ships but the attack force of the Japanese zigzagged across the ocean hence enabled it to avoid shipping lines. This took Japanese force a week and half at the sea before it arrived at its destination safely White, Gary, and Jerrold 2007, 74).
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor took place on December 7, 1941 at 6.00 a.m. It involved the Japanese aircraft carriers launching their plans in the rough sea. The first wave of the attack involved a total of 183 aircraft taking to their air as the part of first phase of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although the attack was plagued by rougher seas, it was followed by 167 additional planes to take part in the second phase of the attack on the Pearl Harbor (Conroy and Harry 1990, 19). The first phase of the attack on the United States Naval Station caught the Americans by total surprise. Because the attack took place in the morning hours of the day and on a Sunday which was a time of leisure for military personnel in America, many of the navy officers were either asleep of in the mess halls taking breakfast while other were preparing for church. They were totally unaware that there was an imminent attack. Although the attack caught many by a surprise, Americans acted quickly and reached to their anti-aircraft guns and started shooting down Japanese planes. The commanders in charge of the Pearl Harbor send for hurried dispatch to American naval fleet. The other target for the Japanese was the battle ships. The damage caused by the attack was severe and devastating. The Japanese launched midget submarines besides the air assault on battleships row (Albright 1988, 5).
United States of America and Japan had been moving towards war for several decades. This was because the United States of America was specifically unhappy with the belligerent attitude of Japan towards China. The government of Japan believed that the only way of solving its demographic and economic problems was by expansion and annexing of neighbors territory and assuming control of its import market. This resulted in Japan latently declaring war on its neighbor China in the year 1937 (Smith 1990, 79). The United States of America, hitherto an ally of China responded to Japanese aggression by issuing trade embargo and economic sanctions on Japan. American action was motivated by the fact that by doing so they will be curtailing Japan’s access to goods and money particularly primary supplies such as oil. The sanctions made Japan more determined and motivated to standing their ground and this was followed by intense negotiations between Washington and Tokyo but no side was willing to budge and this made the probability of war inevitable (Zimm 2011, 43).
Pearl Harbor was an irresistible target because the naval facilities at the Pearl Harbor were undefended and the entire pacific fleet was stationed there and several planes were stationed there in the adjacent airfields in the Harbor. Furthermore, the American intelligence has not contemplated of Japanese attack on the American territory, not even the Pearl Harbor which was several miles away from Japan. The Japanese had a simple plan: to completely destroy the pacific fleet (Darman 2013, 23).
Albright, Harry. 1988. Pearl Harbor: Japan's fatal blunder : the true story behind Japan's attack on December 7, 1941. New York: Hippocrene Books.
Beekman, Allan. 1992. Crisis: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Southeast Asia. Honolulu: Heritage Press of Pacific.
Conroy, Hilary, and Harry Wray. 1990. Pearl Harbor reexamined: prologue to the Pacific war. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Darman, Peter. 2013. Attack on Pearl Harbor: America enters World War II. New York: Rosen Central.
Davenport, John. 2009. The attack on Pearl Harbor the United States enters World War II. New York: Chelsea House.
Smith, Stanley H. 1990. Investigations of the attack on Pearl Harbor: index to government hearings. New York: Greenwood Press.
Stillwell, Paul. 1981. Air Raid, Pearl Harbor! Recollections of a day of infamy. Oxford University Press.
White, Steve, Gary Erskine, and Jerrold Spahn. 2007. Day of infamy: attack on Pearl Harbor. Oxford: Osprey.
Zimm, Alan D. 2011. Attack on Pearl Harbor: strategy, combat, myths, deceptions / Alan D. Zimm ; graphics by Matt Baughman. Philadelphia, [Pa.]: Casemate.