The Japanese-led attack on America’s Pearl Harbor is one of the most severe attacks ever made on the United States soil. Apparently, the offense was unusually a surprise strike that took place on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese Navy and Air Service in the Hawaii Territory of the United States. The aftermath of the invasion is what led to the entry of American forces into the Second World War (Burbeck). During this period, abrasive relations between Japan and the United States was characterized by hostility and imminent conflict, placing the two nations on the brink of war. Like any other occurrences, there is always the presence of causal actions or events that lead to the happening and the Pearl Harbor attack is not an exception. Japan’s intentions of the attack were based on the need to undertake preventive actions to deter the U.S. from interfering with Japan’s military operations in Southeast Asia, and thus the 7-hour long attack saw massive destructions on the U.S-held Pearl-Harbor (Burbeck).
According to Brett, one of the major causes for the attack on Pearl Harbor is embedded in Japan’s increased demand for natural resources including oil, minerals, and steel among others. As this nation expanded in Asia and the Pacific, Japan’s expansion extended into China leading to wars. Japan struggled to isolate China and obtain resource independence through the Southern Operation. In the year 1940, Japan also invaded French-held Indochina in a planned attempt to control supplies and resources en route to China (Swanson). However, the United States had similar interests to the natural resources and Japan’s efforts to gain control over resources were met with the United States counter-actions such as the stopping of airplane shipments, machines, and aviation fuel into Japan, an act that the Japanese considered as a hostile one (Brett).
In addition to expansion and the initial halting of essential commodities, another causal for the attack is entrenched in the additional restrictions placed by the United States to Japan. Beginning with business restrictions, America further froze US-based Japanese assets. As if this was not enough, the U.S also terminated oil exports to Japan in 1941. These actions prompted Japan to respond by proceeding with laid-out plans to capture the Dutch East Indies, a region that was rich in oil reservoirs. In the same year, US president Roosevelt gave a warning that America will move against Japan if the country attacked its neighboring nations. This move trapped the Japanese who were left with two option of either withdrawing from China and lose their control or securing new sources of raw materials. Nevertheless, it is evident that the economic boycott towards japan especially cessation of oil shipments caused Japan to react and thus the economic war became the causal agent for the military battle in Pearl Harbor (Swanson).
Another cause for the Pearl Harbor attack was the movement of the United States’ Pacific fleet into the Harbor in 1939. During the same period, Japan’s intentions included the expansion of territory in the Pacific and the U.S fleet was perceived as a threat by the Japanese officials. Army leaders, as well as politicians, envisioned a war between the two nations and Japan resolved to attack first using the element of surprise (Brett).
The culmination of these three causal factors is the Pearl Harbor attack. Evidently, Japan’s intentions to expand, obtain more natural resources such as oil and conquer more territories were met with high economic hindrance by the United States. Furthermore, the warnings of Roosevelt’s attack of Japan eventually prompted the Japanese army to destroy the American fleet, with the hope of conquering more territories and consolidating its armed forces while the US recovered (Burbeck). However, the attack did not yield expected results as sanctions were not lifted and Japan did not expand in the Pacific region.
Brett. “3 Reasons Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor.” Pearl Harbor Warbirds, 18 November 2015, https://pearlharborwarbirds.com/why-japan-attacked-pearl-harbor/. Accessed 24 November 2017.
Burbeck, James. “Pearl Harbor: A World War II Summary.” The War Times Journal, 2013, http://www.wtj.com/articles/pearl_harbor/index.htm. Accessed 24 November 2017.
Swanson, David. “75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies.” Foreign Policy Journal, 30 November 2016, https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2016/11/30/75-years-of-pearl-harbor-lies/. Accessed 24 November 2017.