Pearl Harbor Raid

WHY WAS PEARL HARBOR ATTACKED?

The Japanese dreamed of an Empire in Asia and began their quest in early 1931. They overran Manchuria and established it as a state, which they named Manchukuo. Moving into China, the Japanese were initially successful, but ultimately encountered the resistance of the Chinese, under the government Chiang Kai-shek. A crisis arose in 1937, when Japan launched a major offensive in an effort to reduce China into submission.

When this tactic was unsuccessful, Japan adopted a policy of economic strangulation. By 1939, major coastal ports were seized and the Chinese capital was forced to move from Nanking to the inland area of Hankow.

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In 1940, the French allowed the entry of Japanese troops into Indochina. A treaty was made with Thailand (Siam). By the end of 1940 the Japanese were threatening the Burma Road, China’s last supply line from the outside world. By July 1941, they had completed their occupation of French Indochina and turned their sights to Thailand, Burma and the Philippines.

Concerned over Japan’s ambitions, the US, Netherlands and Great Britain froze Japanese assets in their countries and imposed stringent economic restrictions, cutting off 90% of raw materials required by Japan for war production. The US demanded the aggressive actions against China and Indonesia be halted. Japan was forced to choose between abandoning her efforts or seizure of other areas rich in raw materials. Abandonment was unthinkable and Japan chose the latter.

By December, 1941 the Japanese Army had a force of 2,400,000 trained ground troops and an air fleet of 7,500 planes. The US had a force of 1,500,000 of which 1,000,000 were not completely trained, 1,157 combat aircraft and 347 war ships. However, America had already committed to a large portion of war production in the European Conflict.

Japan moved forward with war plans. They believed the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was their only threat and set out to neutralize the fleet by means of a surprise air attack.

Source : Pearl Harbor

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