Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a US naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Shortly before 8:00 am that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter jets descended. on the base, where it managed to destroy or damage about 20 American warships, including eight battleships, and more than 300 aircraft. More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were injured. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

The South Sea Pearl

Japan and the road to war
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise, but Japan and the United States had been moving towards war for decades.

The United States was particularly unhappy with Japan’s increasingly belligerent attitude towards 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 take over its import market.

To this end, Japan declared war on China in 1937, resulting in the Nanking massacre and other atrocities.

US officials responded to this attack with a series of economic sanctions and trade embargoes. They thought that without access to money and goods, and especially essential supplies such as oil, Japan would have to curb its expansionism.

Instead, the sanctions made the Japanese more determined to keep their position. During months of negotiations between Tokyo and Washington, DC, neither side has moved. It seemed that war was almost inevitable.

Where is Pearl Harbor?
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii is located near the center of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,000 miles from the continental United States and approximately 4,000 miles from Japan. Nobody believed that the Japanese would start a war with an attack on the distant islands of Hawaii.

Furthermore, US intelligence officials were confident that any Japanese attack would take place on one of the (relatively) neighboring European colonies in the South Pacific: the Dutch East Indies, Singapore or Indochina.

Because US military leaders did not expect an attack this close to home, the naval facilities of Pearl Harbor were relatively defenseless. Nearly the entire Pacific fleet was moored around Ford’s Island in the harbor, and hundreds of planes were crammed into adjacent airports.

For the Japanese, Pearl Harbor was an irresistibly easy target.
USS Arizona
The Japanese plan was simple: destroy the Pacific fleet. In this way, the Americans would not be able to fight back as the Japanese military spread across the South Pacific. On December 7, after months of planning and practice, the Japanese launched their attack.

At around 8 am, Japanese planes filled the sky above Pearl Harbor. Bombs and bullets rained down on the boats moored below them. At 8:10 am, an 1,800-pound bomb ripped through the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and landed in the front ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside.
USS Arizona
The Japanese plan was simple: destroy the Pacific fleet. In this way, the Americans would not be able to fight back as the Japanese military spread across the South Pacific. On December 7, after months of planning and practice, the Japanese launched their attack.

At around 8 am, Japanese planes filled the sky above Pearl Harbor. Bombs and bullets rained down on the boats moored below them. At 8:10 am, an 1,800-pound bomb ripped through the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and landed in the front ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside.
In all, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor paralyzed or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 aircraft. Dry docks and airports were also destroyed. More importantly, 2,403 sailors, soldiers and civilians were killed and around 1,000 people were injured.

But the Japanese had failed to paralyze the Pacific fleet. In the 1940s, battleships were no longer the most important warship – aircraft carriers were, and all aircraft carriers in the Pacific Fleet were off base on 7 December (some had returned to the mainland and others were delivering aircraft to troops). on Midway and Wake Islands).

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