Attack on Pearl Harbor


Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island. It is located on the southern part of Coast of Oahu Island. The Pearl Harbor was dominated by the United States military installations. History has shown that the United States occupied this region in the year 1887; this is the time the Hawaiian monarchy allowed establishment of a coaling and repair firm. In the year 1900, the United States annexed Hawaii; during this period Pearl Harbor was made a naval base. Some years later, some improvements were noted, this was because of the signing of the berlin pact by the United Nations in the year 1940. Current research paper focuses on the attack that took place on Pearl Harbor; it is aimed at establishing the cause, effects and objectives of the attack.

Academicians have shown that, on December 7, 1941 at about 7:55 after meridian local time, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without any notice. During this time, there were negotiations going on between the Japanese and the United States government. There was severe distraction of property as well as loss of lives. The attack did not only affect the military but also the civilians. When the United States nation saw what the Japanese government had done to its militia they laid down strategies on how to revenge. The United States government despite its known policy of keeping peace declared war with the Japanese government (Willmott, H. P., Tohmatsu, H., & Johnson, W. S. 2001). Sources show that, the Japanese attack was a surprise to the American citizens, this lead to the joining of World War 2 by the American government. The domestic support that was very strong disappeared. The support offered by Britain was replaced by a very active alliance. On December 11 other operations conducted by the United States government lead to Italy and Germany to fight the United States.

Literature Review

Research conducted in the recent past has shown that the attack on Pearl Harbor was to neutralize the United States pacific fleet; this would protect the Japanese government from advancing to Malaya as well as expanding its territory to Dutch East Indies. It was believed that regions are rich in natural resources. Attack on Pearl Harbor has been a very important event, influencing the history of the military. This work is rich in operational as well as tactical war details.

There is an obvious difference seen between the world trade Centre and the Pearl Harbors attack. There are some similarities between the two, they both had prior knowledge of the attack but they failed to issue a notice. In the US, their president needed an excuse to for him to issue a go ahead to the war. Both countries were aware of an impending attack but they did nothing to prevent the attack. To some extent, the American government has to be blamed for failing to warn the American military about the attack. It is ironic that the U.S. government was worried about other countries owning atomic bombs, while they themselves dropped one in Hiroshima.

Researchers from institute of history said that although the Japanese achieved part of their objectives, it was not complete. They say so because three of pacific battleships were not in port. To some point the attack solved President Franklin some problems, such as how to overcome the U.S will to participate in the war that was being fought in Europe. Polls shown that nearly 80% of the world’s citizens did not want America to participate in the war. The American government received full support when they asked for declaration of war against Japan. On the contrary, one day later Italy and Germany declared the war against United States of America. This almost killed the chances of the Americans to win the battle.

To appear innocent before the American people, a commission was appointed to try and find out the reasons behind the attack as well as why the Japanese attacked America without any formal notice. The president was sure that the appointed commission would do nothing to compromise the state of unity that prevailed in the entire county. Two weeks later, the report was out on January 23, 1942; it was published in the Sunday newspaper. The report exonerated all the American politicians and the heads of the military.

After that, not all people were convinced by the report, in September of 1944; a revisionism about the attack was launched, John published a report that attempted to show the truth about the attack. In his book, he said that the Americans had been plotting to attack Japan since January of 1941. He goes on to say that the US government went on to provoke the government of Japan throughout the year. He goes on to report that Kimmel was given the wrong information from the headquarters of Washington; this hindered taking effective measures in the Pearl Harbor.

The success of the war was due to the ineptitude of United States forces, but not from the skill of the Japanese forces and aircrews. History has shown that no serious historian can stand firm and deny the fact that Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese was a strategic error. The Japanese provoked a war with the hopeless United States government. The Japanese knew that they would not win a prolonged war with United States military. The Japanese war planners expected the United States to actively move to the west to ease the pressure on the Philippines; this would lead to a confrontation with the Japanese soldiers from the navy department. The Japanese government planned to attack United States fleet as it moved to the west. The plan was to attack the American fleet from all sides, they were almost certain that the Americans will not win a showdown battle. Japanese government knew that they had very few chances of winning as long-term war with the forces of United States. The Japanese opted for a short war strategy, which would have offered them a chance to win the battle; they trained their men, built their forces and guided them on how to make the war as short as possible. The Japanese militia came up with a plan of destroying United States battleships; history shows that they in fact achieved it. There are some questions that researchers needs to ask themselves, answering those question will help one understand how the attack happened.

Methodology/ Data

Library research and extensive reading involves reading various types of literary works on the attack of ‘Pearl Harbor’. The topic can also be researched by watching documentary films. There is a video entitled “the attack on pearl harbor.” This video has important information on how the attack was planned, conducted and how it progressed. Material reading is also part of the library research method used to collect information. The methods used helped the group to answer the research questions it had formulated.

Data Analysis

Was the American government aware of the war?

The American government was known and respected for its preparedness from external attacks but this time it was hopeless from the beginning. The United States government was aware of the war and developed plans since 1920. The Japanese government did not cause tension until its invasion of city of Manchuria. For a period of ten years Japan expanded its territory to China, Japan made an effort of isolating China as well as archive the desired resource independent that will help them attain victory mostly on the main land. From December of 1937, Japanese increased their attack on China, where about 200,000 Chinese lost their lives. Fearing their expansion the governments of United Kingdom, France and the United States provided loan assistance to the government of China for more supply of war equipment.

In 1940, Japanese forces attacked French Indochina to be able to control all the weapons supplied to China. In return, United States government halted oversea shipments of machine tools, parts, and gasoline to Japan, Japanese government perceived this as an act that meant to show a bad relationship between the two governments. In a move to discourage Japanese expansion to the east, president Franklin ordered a move of the pacific battleships to Hawaii and directed that a military camp be built in Hawaii. The Japanese did their best to keep United States government out of war. The Japanese war planner thought an attack to the Philippines would be necessary. The United States thought of defending Philippines with troop of 40000, but Douglas opposed it; he felt that they needed a bigger army (Barkley, A. W., Ferguson, H., & Brewster, O. 1946).

In the year 1941, the United States canceled oil export to Japan after it expanded its territory to France. In the same year United States warned Japan against expansion to China; they had to stop. The countries engaged into a negotiation to try to solve their differences. It was during this time that the Japanese government decided to attack the United States.

What were the objectives of the attack?

The attack had some specific aims. First, they had an aim to destroy the American fleet that were very important to the Americans. This was to prevent the pacific marine from hindering the Japanese expansion to the Dutch and Malaya. Secondly, they wanted to buy more time for them to gain roots as well as strengthen its naval in the island before shipbuilding that was approved in 1940 by Waish act. Finally, it aimed at acting as a severe punishment to the United States morale. They wanted to kill their morale from joining the war the extended into the East Indies that was occupied by the Dutch. To ensure their moral was killed completely they targeted the American battleships. Their main aim was to be able to conquer the south of Asia without difficulties.

What approach did the attack take?

A Japanese trained military force made an attack. They had planned to launch 408 aircraft; 360 were to be used in the two waves of the attack and the other 48 were to be for patrol. The attack was to be in two waves; the primary wave came first while the secondary one was to attack carriers. After a success of the two waves, they were to attack American battleships. The primary wave attacked the capital ships; it had carried most deadly the weapons. The fighters were directed to choose only the high valued ships. They had to destroy as many stationary aircrafts as possible; this was to ensure no craft goes to the air to engage the fighters. When their craft fuel went low, they had to refill from the tankers and get back to the combat, (Home Entertainment (Firm), 2001).

How did the Japanese government declare the war?

The attack did not go as per the wish of Admiral Yamamoto, because it took place before communication of any formal report from the government. They had planned to start the war after it had informed the government of United States that the negotiations were over; the attack was planned to have started 30 minutes later. Tokyo was given the mandate of transmitting a 5000-word that was meant to act as a notification to the Japanese embassy in United States, but it took too long hence the start of the attack.

Conventional wisdom holds that Japan attacked United States without warning; the Japanese government protects itself by saying that they had written a notification later but the person who delivered it was late.

What were the effects of the attack on the Americans?

One and half hours after it began, the attack ended leaving 2008 sailors dead, and many other wounded. 218 soldiers were killed, and other 364 wounded. In total 2403, citizens of America were killed and 1178 were wounded.

Saying that all the Americans that were killed during the attack were innocent and they were non-combatants is true because there was no war when the attack occurred. Most of the American battleships were destroyed during the attack, although Japanese war troop concentrated on the battle motors, they did not ignore other possible target. During the attack, there were 402 aircrafts that belonged to the Americans. 188 of them were destroyed and the rest were damaged. There were nine civilian crafts flying in the air around Hawaii, three of them were shot down (Lassieur, 2009).


The attack though came as a surprise to the American government, it was taken positively by the American people; those who perished are honored to date, the survivors were awarded medals as heroes and they are remembered till these days. The government of Japan regretted the act for a very long time because its relation with the United States was spoiled. The act of the United States declaring war on the Japanese lead to the second World War that lead to lost lives and property destruction. The attack on the Pearl Harbor will remain a history to the Americans, Japanese and the world at large. Preparedness is the essential thing in everyday life, during the end of 1941 to one week to the attack. The American army was ready, had this continued the attack would not have gone to that extent. If the Americans were ready, the Japanese war force would have encountered resistance from the American troop. Very few American ships and aircrafts would have been destroyed. Chances are, the Japanese troop would have been outnumbered by the American troops. Many more Japanese would have lost their lives as well as the Japanese government would have lost its war machines. The American government has been in the forefront in safeguarding the Pearl Harbor. The American government has built a memorial on the island; a site that symbolizes Japanese surrender has also been preserved on the island. The island is currently occupied by the United States military.



Bay, M., Bruckheimer, J., Wallace, R., Affleck, B., Hartnett, J., Beckinsale, K., Bremner, E. Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm). (2001). Pearl Harbor. United States: Touchstone Home Video.

Lassieur, A. (2009). The attack on Pearl Harbor: An interactive history adventure. Mankato, Minn: Capstone Press.

United States., Barkley, A. W., Ferguson, H., & Brewster, O. (1946). Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack: Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack, Congress of the United States, pursuant of S. Con. Res. 27, 79th Congress, a concurrent resolution to investigate the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and events and circumstances relating thereto, and additional views of Mr. Keefe, together with Minority views of Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Brewster. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.

United States., & Barkley, A. W. (1946). Pearl Harbor attack: Hearings before the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Congress of the United States, Seventy-ninth Congress, first [-second] session, pursuant to S. Con. Res. 27. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.

Willmott, H. P., Tohmatsu, H., & Johnson, W. S. (2001). Pearl Harbor. London: Cassell

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