Argumentative Essay on Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor

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History of Pearl Harbor

Being stationed in Pearl Harbor was kind of a regular experience. Even though it was in Hawaii, it was still routine. On a regular basis, the maintenance of ships kept watch, laundry, cooked, mail, cleaned, etc (WWII National Museum). All the regular things people would do on a regular basis happened here no matter if it was in Hawaii or on a naval base. However, Pearl Harbor is not the home port or main docking base of the Pacific Fleet which is another way of saying the US Navy or the US Bluewater fleet. Considering before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the tension with Japan, Pearl Harbor was not always the fleet's home port (WWII National Museum). In fact, its original home port was in San Diego. This sometimes took a toll on sailors. Considering they were so far away from the mainland, sailors were also far away from their loved ones (WWII National Museum).In 1840, the idea of building something at Pearl Harbor was introduced by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Navy. He urged the dredging of the coral-bar entrance, which means clearing things in water to ensure the safe passage of ships (Britannica). However, it was not until 1887 that some work began. The U.S. had gained access to the harbor to be used as a repair and coaling station through a subsequent treaty (Britannica). Around two decades later Pearl Harbor was converted from a coaling station to a naval station in 1908 (Britannica). The location of Pearl Harbor was very critical to the USA in order to achieve naval supremacy in the Pacific. In 1904, Russia and Japan had been battling over the expansion of power in East Asia between these two nations. However, Japan surprisingly won the battle. The U.S. feared Japan would soon set its sight on America. It was very likely that Japan would come after the U.S. (WWII National Museum). It was believed that where Pearl Harbor was, it was a crucial point of defense and offense for the nation to achieve naval supremacy and to rule the Pacific Ocean (WWII National Museum). It was believed that not only was Pearl Harbor, 'A base necessity for protecting Hawaii; it was necessary for protecting the nation'(WWII National Museum).In 1930, Japan had started to expand its border and powers and had been playing very aggressively (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum). However, the U.S. was against what Japan was doing and was concerned that eventually, Japan would set its sight on the U.S. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum). As a response, to this expansion of Japanese borders and power, Franklin D. Roosevelt who was president at the time decided to move the Pacific Fleet from its homeport in San Diego on the mainland to Pearl Harbor as a show of force and strength for the U.S. As well as for this strategic move to act as a deterrent for the Japanese to further prevent the expansion of borders (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum).

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What was Japan's problem with Pearl Harbor and why did they attack it?

Japan started to expand its borders and powers around the 20th century (History). With Japan invading many places like China and Manchuria and other places, most of the time, they had been successful and had taken over those regions in order to expand powers and borders (History). Japan knew that eventually, the U.S. would eventually try to stop their acts because they knew they had operations near the Philippians and knew the U.S. would do everything to defend their operations (History). Another very big factor in the attack on Pearl Harbor was resources. Japan had gotten almost all of its resources necessary for functions and operations in Japan from the U.S. such as oil, aircraft, metal, and other very important goods important to Japan (History). The U.S. had hoped that placing trade embargoes which means banning trade between two regions would force the Japanese to stop their expansion knowing that they relied on the U.S. (History). However, this move, 'Actually convinced Japan to stand its ground' (History Pruitt). Japan knew with their supply of resources cut off, they would have to try and cripple the U.S. Fleet with the element of surprise in order to conquest the Pacific Ocean and other countries (History). January 1941, the emperor of Japan, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto announced they would attack Pearl Harbor (Gilder Lehrman). It took a whole year of fine detailing and refining their plans of attack (Gilder Lehrman). The Japanese had developed a multi-step plan in order for the attack. When Japan set sail for Pearl Harbor, there was an order given for absolutely strict radio silence no matter what (Parkinson). The Japanese did not want the U.S. to intercept any of their transmission for the attack and wanted to keep everything quiet and away from the U.S. in order to catch them off, guard. The attack force against Pearl Harbor consisted of, 6 aircraft carriers, escorted by destroyers, cruisers, and battleships (Parkinson). Throughout the journey, the Japanese had constantly been checking radio signals from Pearl Harbor to see if somehow, word of their surprise attack or departure to Pearl Harbor had been leaked. However, the Japanese found nothing indicating that Pearl Harbor has not found out about their attack plan meaning so far, their plan was working (Parkinson). Along with strict radio silence orders, sailing across the Pacific Ocean is bound to get you in some harsh weather. The Japanese encountered brutal storms and waves. Believe it or not, these storms actually helped Japan to stay undetected while sailing (Parkinson). One day, a convoy of pilots had, 'Reported two, or possibly three, Japanese convoys about 80 miles south-east of Cambodia Point' (Parkinson 99). However, lost contact soon after. The pilots reported this, but only a general alert was issued (Parkinson). Once the aircraft carriers reached their ordered take-off point, the first wave of bombers and fighters took off (Parkinson). Tora Tora Tora was the signal radioed by Fuchida which translates to Tiger which means that the surprise attack worked and they caught the Americans off guard (Parkinson). Bombers and fighters not only attacked the Harbour where the ships were anchored, but they also attacked a little inland which consisted of oil tanks, hangars, depots, airfields, aircraft, Navy facilities, etc (Parkinson). Meanwhile, torpedo bombers got in low and steady and launched their torpedoes which is a tubes filled with explosives that propel through the water and explode when it hits their target, at the ships. Some bombers and dive bombers had also dropped bombs right onto the ships (Parkinson). It had taken a while for the Americans to start fighting back with AA guns (Parkinson). The U.S. suffered staggering losses including, '18 major ships were sunk or seriously damaged: 188 planes were destroyed: and 2,403 people were killed including 68 civilians' (Shapiro). For the Japanese losses, they suffered the losses of, '29 planes, 1 submarine, 5 midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men' (Shapiro). However, dry docks and repair facilities and some oil and fuel tanks had not been destroyed. The Japanese had intended to also destroy these but had failed (Shapiro). The U.S. was extremely lucky that these buildings and structures had not been damaged or it would have made salvation and reconstruction nearly impossible (Shapiro). Perhaps, the luckiest event of all during this attack was that not a single U.S. aircraft carrier was present during the attack. The results could have been catastrophic if there were any (Shapiro).

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Argumentative Essay on Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
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