Why Was The Attack On Pearl Harbor Significant – Pearl Harbor is a United States naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, which was the site of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Before 8 that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the camp. They managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships and more than 300 aircraft. More than 2,400 Americans, including civilians, were killed and another 1,000 were wounded. The day after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
The attack on Pearl Harbor came as a surprise, but Japan and the United States had been heading toward war for decades.
Why Was The Attack On Pearl Harbor Significant
The United States was particularly unhappy with Japan’s increasingly belligerent attitude toward China. The Japanese government believed that the only way to solve its economic and demographic problems was to expand into its neighbor’s territory and capture its import market.
Years On, The Attack On Pearl Harbor Offers Lessons For Today
To this end, Japan declared war on China in 1937, resulting in the Nanking Massacre and other atrocities.
American officials responded to the invasion with economic sanctions and trade embargoes. They argued that without access to money and goods, and especially without essential supplies such as oil, Japan would have to rein in its expansionism.
Instead, the embargo made the Japanese more determined for their position. Tokyo and Washington DC. Both sides remained steadfast in the months-long negotiations. War seemed inevitable.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 2,000 miles from the US mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan. No one believed that the Japanese would start a war by attacking the Hawaiian Islands.
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Additionally, American intelligence officials believed that any Japanese attack would be against one of the (relatively) nearby European colonies in the South Pacific: the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, or Indochina.
Because American military leaders did not anticipate an attack so close to home, the naval facilities at Pearl Harbor were relatively unprotected. Almost the entire Pacific Fleet was stacked around Ford Island in the harbor, and hundreds of aircraft were squeezed into adjacent airfields.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. The attack killed 2,403 soldiers, wounded another 1,178, and sank or destroyed six US ships. They also destroyed 169 US Navy and Army Air Force aircraft.
Japanese torpedo bombers flew about 50 feet above the water as they fired on the US ships in the harbor, while other aircraft decks were bombarded with bullets.
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A sailor watches the explosion of the USS Shaw among the wreckage of the Ford Island Naval Air Station.
A sailor runs to cover the burning wreckage of Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field at Kaneohe Bay Naval Station, which had already been bombed by dive bombers.
The battleship USS Arizona, blown up by the Japanese during the sneak raid on December 7, lays in the mud at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Dread Nut’s three guns, on the left, project from a turret almost completely submerged. The control tower leans at a dangerous angle.
A cork life preserver with a white canvas cover from the battleship USS Arizona after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Attack On Pearl Harbor: History, Facts, Casualties
Japanese troops trained for about a year to prepare for the attack. The Japanese strike force, which included six aircraft carriers and 420 aircraft, sailed a 3,500-mile journey from Hitokappu Bay in the Kurile Islands to a staging area 230 miles away. The Hawaiian Islands are off Oahu.
This Dec. 7 file photo shows an aerial view of U.S. Pacific Fleet battleships destroyed in flames at Pearl Harbor after 360 Japanese warplanes launched a massive surprise attack.
A damaged B-17C Flying Fortress bomber sits on the tarmac near Hangar No. 5 at Hickam Field after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In a flooded dry dock, the destroyer Cassin is partially submerged and leaning against another destroyer, the Downs. The battleship Pennsylvania, shown aft, was relatively unscathed.
Pearl Harbor Attack
Two soldiers sit on the wreckage of a bomber surrounded by dirt and sandbags at Hickam Field after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Wreckage of a Japanese torpedo plane shot down by the December 7 surprise attack from the bottom of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, January 7, 1942.
Military personnel pay their respects at the mass grave of 15 officers and others who died in the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The coffins were wrapped in a US flag.
May 1942: Enlisted men at Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Hawaii, lay over the graves of their comrades who died in the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Graves are dug on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Ulupa’U Crater at Marine Corps Base can be seen in the background.
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The Japanese plan was simple: destroy the Pacific Fleet. That way, when Japan’s armed forces spread across the South Pacific, the Americans would not be able to fight back. After months of planning and training, the Japanese launched their attack on December 7th.
Around 8 a.m., Japanese planes filled the sky over Pearl Harbor. Bombs and bullets rained down on the vessels anchored below. At 8:10, a 1,800-pound bomb crashed through the battleship’s deck.
Landed in her upcoming Patarom magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 people trapped inside.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor crippled or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and over 300 aircraft. Dry docks and airfields were also destroyed. Most importantly, more than 2,000 people died.
Pearl Harbor Japanese Attack December 7th 1941 As Viewed From Hickam Field. Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor On Dec. 7th 1941. Hickam Field Was Badly Damaged With Significant Loss Of Life And Many
But the Japanese failed to cripple the Pacific Fleet. By the 1940s, battleships were no longer the most important naval craft: aircraft carriers were, and as it turned out, all the carriers of the Pacific Fleet left the base on 7 December. (Some had returned to land and others were delivering aircraft to troops on Midway and Wake Islands.)
Moreover, the base’s essential coastal facilities—oil storage depots, repair shops, shipyards, and submarine docks—were left intact by the Pearl Harbor attack. As a result, the US Navy recovered relatively quickly from the attack.
The attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 US personnel, including sailors, soldiers and civilians. In addition, 1,178 people were injured. 129 Japanese soldiers died.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of the United States Congress on December 8, the day after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor.
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“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a day in infamy – the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
He added: “No matter how long it takes us to overcome this planned invasion, the American people will prevail in their righteous power to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of Congress and the people when I say that we will not only defend ourselves to the best of our ability, but will ensure that this kind of treachery never again endangers us.
For the first time since the attack on Pearl Harbor and during years of discussion and debate, the American people were united in their determination to go to war.
The Japanese wanted to draw the United States into an agreement to lift economic sanctions against them. Instead, they pushed their adversary into a global conflict that ultimately resulted in Japan’s first occupation by a foreign power.
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Did you know? The lone vote against Congress’s declaration of war against Japan came from Representative Jeanette Rankin of Montana. Rankin was a pacifist who voted against American entry into World War I. “As a woman,” she said, “I cannot go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”
On December 8, Congress approved Roosevelt’s declaration of war against Japan. Three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
For the second time, Congress retaliated by declaring war on the European powers. More than two years after the start of World War II, the United States entered the conflict.
Travel through “The Day That Lived in Infamy,” exploring details that still amaze us 75 years later, including accounts from experts, military intelligence and those who lived through it.
Air Attack On Pearl Harbor Hi Res Stock Photography And Images
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Michael Ray Michael Ray oversees coverage of European history and military affairs. He holds a B.A. In history
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