A. Plan of the Investigation
This investigation asks the question, what was the motivation of the Japanese government behind the air attack on Pearl Harbor? To assess these motivations, the significance of Pear Harbor, the result of the attack, the overall intentions of the Japanese government, as well as the relations with them and the United States are being identified and evaluated in this investigation. In addition, the attack itself must be evaluated to have a full understanding of the attack and its intention.
B. Summary of Evidence
The Japanese military strike on Pearl Harbor occurred on December 7th, 1941. The attack cost the U.S. 18 ships and 347 planes, and 2403 lives were lost. (Lord 219-220). On September 18th, 1931, the Japanese military invaded Manchuria, an area of land located in Northern China. While previous relations between the two countries were tentative, this was the first major event that spurred contempt between the U.S. and Japan. The purpose of this invasion was both the large amount of growth and expansion the territory provided, and more importantly the resources Japan now had access to. In this strike, Japan no longer needed to rely on the U.S. By gaining support of the League of Nations, the U.S. sent Japan the “Stimson doctrine”, which refused to recognize their newly acquired land. This only led to more hostility with the Japanese. As a result of this and other aggressive actions, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and rapidly increased the budget of the Royal Navy (Costello 42-48).
In 1937 tensions between Japan and China boiled over in the Japanese conquest of North China. Roosevelt responded by attempting a trade quarantine. It wasn’t until Japan pushed into French controlled Indochina that other countries chose to support Roosevelt. With this push in 1940, the U.S. agreed to freeze Japanese assets and place an embargo on oil importation. The Japanese would then be left with a years worth of oil before their ships could no longer run (Costello 93-94). This development came with the breaking of the Open door policy the U.S. had held for years. The Open door policy had been a long-term approach of the U.S. towards China. It stated that trade with China would be open and equal to all countries to prevent one from dominating trade (Ienaga 7).
Relations got worse, and by the summer of 1941, the U.S. and Japan were heavily at odds, and at this point far from a peaceful end to their confrontation. Growth in the Japanese navy made them a formidable force against Britain. By commanding forces near them, namely Singapore, Japan managed to expand their navy, which gave them the chance to challenge the British. Admiral Sir Dudley believed with the support of the American Navy in Hawaii, this growth wouldn’t pose a threat. This was where the Pearl Harbor got its importance, in the support it could provide to allies in the pacific (Allen 136-137). After declaring war on Japan, the president was quoted as saying: