Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?

+28 votes
asked Sep 24, 2015 in Culture & Society by MadelaineGue (240 points)
I just watched Pearl Harbor by Michael Bay. Decent movie I guess. Makes me wonder, though, why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? It seems like a rash decision on their part. Did they not expect the atomic bomb drops? Then again, no one expects it to be so effective. I mean, America was one of the superpowers of that time who decide that they wanted nothing to do in the war in Asia as far as I know. The only reason I can think of why Japan would do so is just to show off their power, that didn’t go as well as they thought. Why did they launch an assault on Pearl Harbor?

2 Answers

+30 votes
answered Sep 25, 2015 by CarloA679021 (370 points)
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor since this tactical decision will give Japan the lead they need to later attack Europe and other regions. On the morning of 17th December 1941, Japan launches their air fleet against the U.S. Pacific Fleet. This attack is intended as a preventive action to keep the U.S. fleet from joining the fray later on as the then Empire of Japan is planning military action in Southeast Asia. Their targets are overseas territories of the UK, the Netherlands, and the USA as well. The attack, however, was also done on US protected territories (Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island) and British Empire colonies (Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaya) near simultaneously over the course of seven hours. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a success to Japan, with little loss in comparison to the US. Unfortunately, this led the President of USA Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare war the next day and confirms US entry into the WWII.
+6 votes
answered Sep 30, 2015 by DorethaSosa8 (280 points)
So why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? Because the US fleet is the only threat to Japan While the attack seems suicidal at first, in hindsight, British, France, and the Netherlands Eastern colonies were largely defenseless after June 1941, 6 months before the attack on 17th December 1941. Japan and Germany could have worked together to take down Soviet Russia after Japan take over these colonies, all while avoiding the US. Russia, however, is a hardy opponent. The USA was not expected to join the war at all. Japan make one mistake, with their lack of intelligence, they are convinced that the US naval fleet is still weaker and less modern than the ones Japan owned (Japan was considered to own the best air fleet). USA did not interfere at all when the UK gets attacked 26 months earlier on September 1939. So Japan is overconfident that their attack would not receive too much backlash and is indeed advantageous to their goal. So they attacked, expecting only a negotiation from the US, instead the US entry into the war and two bombs that devastate their country.
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