Why Did Japan Attack Pearl Harbor?

“Pearl Harbor and the Second Attack” by Arthur R. Marshall is a detailed look at the Japanese plan to take Pearl Harbor and destroy the US Fleet there. Although not particularly long, this book is an interesting summary of events. I especially enjoyed reading about the Americans’ reaction to this. The attack happened just as the US entered the war. It was a very important event for America, and the author does a good job of conveying the historical facts.


Japan had declared war on the United States two weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked. Pearl Harbor had been neutral all along, but Japanese military planners believed that this would be a chance to strike US forces in the Pacific. They believed they had sufficient logistical support to do this. In particular, they had issued orders to all Japan’s submarines to attack Pearl Harbor starting on the morning of October 11th.


On the morning of the attack, US Navy boats approached Pearl Harbor to investigate. Two battleships were damaged or sunk, and another cruiser was taken out of commission. This prompted the US Navy to send a bigger ship to the scene. At this point, it became obvious that Japan was going to attack.


Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? They claimed it was because American warships refused to surrender. However, US military officials said that there was no legal basis for this claim. There had been many prior US wars with Japan, and she had participated in some of them.


At about noon, American troops began to surrender to the Japanese. The Japanese did not surrender until after 3 hours of fighting. Japan claimed that she had killed over a thousand American soldiers. Many US Navy and US Marine officials said that they could not believe this claim, and even after investigating the incident, still could not understand how this could have happened. Later reports claimed that the Americans had machine-gunned Japanese boats before surrendering.


Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? Some speculate that she was trying to test American resolve and to see if the United States would actually go to war with Japan. Others say that Japan wanted to show the US that she was stronger than the US. Still others say that Japan may have felt threatened, and that she was just looking for an excuse to attack Pearl Harbor.


After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered the Second World War. There was a temporary suspension in trade and travel, and the US Navy was put on alert. The Japanese government issued a stern challenge to the US and warned that if the US did not stop attacks on Japan then Japan would have no choice but to increase the size of her navy. Japan also received plenty of criticism from the United States, and many believed that she was trying to make a point that the US was not as strong as they made themselves out to be. Japan remained a very worried country throughout the war, and even after the Pearl Harbor attack, some US citizens refused to send their children to the US Military.


After the war ended, peace quickly reigned in the region. Japan was so eager to return to the family-friendly, peaceful coexistence that had once existed between the two nations, that she welcomed Americans back with open arms. Today, there are over 40 memorials throughout the United States and Canada to mark the one-year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. What really is the answer to the question, “Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?”