Pearl Harbor: Why and How Japan Attacked the U.S.

Was the entire Pearl Harbor attack America’s “Back Door to War”?

Rear Adm. Robert A. Theobald famously stated that the U.S.’ excessive negotiations and talks with Japan were a ploy to tempt the Japanese to strike first. Theobald believed that the Pacific fleet was more or less like bait to the enemy. And the moment Japan attacked, America believed that it would now have legitimate reasons to strike back. This is commonly referred to as the Back Door to War theory.

Other historians claim that Theobald’s assertions are completely false and unsubstantiated. The U.S. did, in fact, have difficulties with the code-breaking the Japanese messages and that the U.S. was simply caught off guard.

Post World War II and the Current Relationship between the U.S. and Japan

Even after the end of World War II, the country still saw a lot of accusations and counter-accusations coming from high-ranking military officials. It was a very tense situation. The good thing is that America knew when to put their differences aside to face the enemy. However, typical of any democratic society, the issue resurfaced after the War for further investigations and public discourse.

Another thing that is worth noting is that after the curtains were drawn on World War II, Japan and the U.S. for decades worked together to form a very strong economic and political bond. Today, the two nations have reconciled their differences and operate under the spirit of tolerance and respect for human rights.

How is Pearl Harbor like today?

Pearl Harbor

How is Pearl Harbor like today?

There still exist remnants of the ships that went down. For example, the USS Arizona rests down below Pearl Harbor. It could not be salvaged. Today, the place receives more than one million visitors yearly. There is a memorial dedicated to lives that were lost on that day. These memorials are the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, and the USS Utah Memorial. In December 2016, there was a historic visit to Pearl Harbor by Shinzo Abe (Japanese Prime Minister). He is so far the only sitting Prime Minister to ever visit Pearl Harbor. In conclusion, we would like to share  the following words Shinzo Abe uttered during his historic visit:

“We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow, we the people of Japan, have taken.”

Frequently asked questions about the Pearl Harbor attack

FAQs on the Pearl Harbor attack

Pearl Harbor attack – FAQs

The following questions, along with their respective answers provide an overview of the Pearl Harbor attack:

What was the main reason for Japan’s aggression toward the United States?

The main reason was Japan’s desire for territorial expansion and access to resources such as oil, rubber, and minerals. They were facing resource shortages due to international sanctions, particularly after their invasion of China in the 1930s.

How did Japan plan and execute the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Japan meticulously planned the attack, sending a fleet of aircraft carriers and submarines to approach Hawaii. On the morning of December 7, 1941, they launched a surprise aerial assault on the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. The attack involved over 350 aircraft, sinking or severely damaging eight battleships and multiple other ships.

Was the attack on Pearl Harbor a complete surprise?

Yes, the attack was a complete surprise to the United States. While there were indications that tensions were escalating in the Pacific, the scale and timing of the attack caught the U.S. military and government off guard.

How did the United States respond to the incident?

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941, the day after the incident. This marked its entry into World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized public support for the war effort, and the U.S. mobilized its resources for a total war effort.

What role did intelligence failures play in the attack?

There were intelligence failures on both the Japanese and American sides. The U.S. had received warnings but did not anticipate the attack. Meanwhile, the Japanese maintained strict radio silence and successfully kept their plans secret.

Did Japan achieve its objectives with the invasion of Pearl Harbor?

In the short term, Japan achieved tactical success by crippling the U.S. Pacific Fleet. However, in the long term, it led to the United States becoming a formidable opponent in the Pacific War and ultimately played a role in Japan’s defeat.

When did Japan officially surrender in World War II?

Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945, after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.

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