Attack On Pearl Harbor History Essay Sample


2,500 American lives lost, 18 ships and 300 airplanes destroyed. According to President Roosevelt, “A date which will live in infamy.” On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese planes attacked a US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This was known as one of the most tragic days in United States history and propelled us to join World War 2. Japan, a smaller nation, was determined to achieve its goal of becoming very powerful, and the fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor seemed to be interfering with their plan. So, why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? They attacked Pearl Harbor because they wanted dominance, more territory, and more natural resources. 

One of the reasons that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor was because they wanted dominance over Asia and the Pacific. Document A contains an excerpt from a required reading for Japanese highschoolers and college students that says, “Japan is the fountain source of the Yamato race. Manchukuo (Manchuria) is its reservoir and East Asia (including China) is its paddy field.” This explains the belief that the Japanese people want to expand their empire and their race. Document C says that in 1937 the Japanese invaded China. Since they were trying to invade other territories, the United States started to put down restrictions. In 1939 the United States began their first embargo of aircraft and aircraft parts. Then in 1941 the US froze all Japanese assets and bank accounts and stopped all oil shipments to Japan. Once this occurred, Japanese leaders felt that war against the United States was inevitable. The restrictions caused Japan to attack Pearl Harbor because it interfered with the Japanese plan to seek dominance.

Equally as important, was Japan’s desire to attain more territory. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were rapidly trying to invade other lands. Document B shows that the Japanese acquired Manchuria and parts of Northeast China. The map also shows that after they attacked Pearl Harbor, they gained a lot of territory in the Pacific. This meant that in order to reach their goal of getting more land, they had to attack the United States. Also, Japan was sending their troops into China to gain more land, which the United States did not like.  Document E includes a quote from Hideki Toyo, the Prime Minister and War Minister of Japan that says, “We can expect an expansion of our country only by stationing troops. This the United States does not welcome.” This made the Japanese angry that the United States was controlling them. They wanted to be world powers and have a lot of territories to grow their country. Their desire for territory led to the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Finally, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor because they needed to acquire more resources in order to grow their country. Obtaining oil was necessary to grow and expand their power, and Japan had little oil. This required them to either import it or to explore to find oil. Document B shows that Japan was importing a lot of metal and oil from the United States. When the US cut off this trade, Japan was no longer able to get these resources. They realized that in order to get the oil they would have to get it from a US territory in the Pacific called the Philippines. Document B shows that after bombing Pearl Harbor they were able to get a lot of land in the Pacific. Many countries at the time allied over their natural resources through trade. Japan needed to attack Pearl Harbor so they could get these resources that would make them more powerful.

Although there were many other factors that led to the attack of Pearl Harbor, for example, they wanted to cripple the United States military strength, there were three main reasons. This includes that Japan wanted dominance, more territory, and more natural resources. It is important to understand why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because there are two completely different perspectives in war. There is not necessarily an evil force in war because each decision made by every country is very complex. It is not reasonable to jump to a conclusion knowing only one side of the situation. Everything about war is a tragedy and it is important to understand everything that goes on behind the big events that made up the war. The United States was clearly standing in the way of Japan’s desire to expand their empire. Because of this, Japan felt that war with the United States was inevitable. They made the decision to go on the offensive and to cripple America's Pacific fleet in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. 
 

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