The Attack on Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941 marks the day when Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, thus engaging The United States to enter World War II. On this Sunday morning, America’s navy suffered a huge loss as they did not expect this attack from Japan. This event created a lot of aggression from the Americans with which they used a source of reason to declare war on Japan. Contrary to what many believe, this attack could have been avoided. Japan had no intention of dealing with the US, had it not been for their involvement in Japan’s affairs. Japan only wanted to pursue their goals of extending their empire without interference from the West. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not a surprise, as the US and the Japanese had a strained relationship due to the Japanese expansion in Asia, trade embargoes influenced by the US, and the failed peace negotiations between the two countries.
Tensions began between these two countries when Japan invaded Manchuria and attacked China, thus violating the Open door policy the US had formed in the League of Nations. The Open door policy was created by the US as a way to control the spheres of influence which included Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan. It offered an open and free market to any one of these countries to establish trading in China. Japan had no regard for the US’s policies as in 1915, they sought to gain more control in China through their secret Twenty-One demands.
“These demands, presented as an ultimatum to the Chinese government, would have amounted to giving Japan a privileged status in certain parts of the country” (The Road to Pearl Harbor: The United States and East Asia, 1915–1941). Japan would have had access to harbors and ports in China, as well as an opinion in their political matters. Japan’s aggression against China led them to also leave the League of Nations as the United States saw them as an aggressor and favored China. The United States also did not support Japan as they had attacked the US gunboat Panay in the Yangtze River. This killing of innocent Americans, gave the US more of a reason to back up China. America openly showed their opinion when they initiated the Lend-Lease Act, offering aid to China and any ally whose protection the US valued. Already, the relationship between Japan and the US had begun to diminish as Japan’s actions did not appeal to America.
As Japan increasingly became a threat to the US, trade embargoes were established giving the Japanese more reason to plan an attack. The Japanese government now sought out to advance towards Southeast Asia. They wanted to obtain more resources and raw materials to help fund their war in China. At this time, Japan also agreed to an alliance with Germany and Italy, which they named the Tripartite Pact. Each country promised assistance to any of the signatories if they were under attack from any country not involved in the war. The United States felt threatened by...