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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Seven Major Events Prior to Pearl Harbor

Japanese pilots before their flight to Pearl Harbor.

There were Seven Major Events Prior to Pearl Harbor that involved both the Japanese and the United States. The time frame was July 1940 through December 1941. Japanese invasions of country after country solidified its reputation as a super aggressive war machine.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had promised to keep the United States out of World War II. However, the following seven major events precipitated the attack on Pearl Harbor:                                                                      

  1. July 1940- Japan occupies French colony of Indochina; United States begins an oil embargo against the Japanese. (see map below)
  2. January 1941-Japan makes plans for air attacks on Pearl Harbor.
  3. October 1941- Imperial Japanese Army and Navy military announce that Japan should get ready for war with the United States.  
  4. October 1941- Hideki Tojo becomes Prime Minister of Japan.
  5. November 1941- US instructs Japan to leave China and Indochina. 
  6. November 1941- Japan sends diplomats to find ways to avoid war with the US.
  7. November 1941-  Six Japanese aircraft warships secretly leave Northern Japan and head for Pearl Harbor. 

Some historians argue on behalf of the Japanese. They maintain, "Why did America have an armada in there (Hawaii) the first place? What gives the US the right to take away Hawaii's sovereignty and annex it as an outpost in the middle of the Pacific?"*

Still, another point to consider is that the English, French, Dutch, Portuguese had Asian/Pacific colonies. The Japanese desired the same for its country as part of its increasing nationalism. One reason they regarded America negatively was because of its crippling embargo. Having fuel and raw materials was paramount for its quest for Pacific expansion and necessary for day to day living.

A declassified confidential 26 page memo is housed in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library that details an imminent attack in the Pacific. The memo was dated December 4, 1941. An abundance of theories exist on how much and what exactly did the US know before the attack. One thing is certain:  The focus on code breakers after Pearl Harbor was to decipher military code as opposed to diplomatic code.

 Pearl Harbor was a major turning point in American history. The Seven Major Events Prior to Pearl Harbor were pivotal factors that led to the America's entry into World War II. On December 7, 1941, 2400 people died. 1178 were injured. Hundreds of planes were destroyed and eight battleships were demolished. Without hesitation, the US declared war on Japan. Japan, Italy and Germany in turn declared war on the United States. The stage was now set.

Navajo Native American Code Talkers.
Later used in the war and America's best kept secret.
The Japanese were not able to understand their language.


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