Attack on Pearl Harbour is one of the most memorable events that occurred in the history of the world. This attack was initiated by Japanese towards the naval base of the United States that was located in the Pearl Harbour. This attack triggered conflicts, which eventually resulted to war between the military of the two countries and also attracted interest from other countries. This paper focuses on the numerous events that transpired after the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbour, as well as the participation of other countries.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour is also commonly referred to as Operation Al or the Hawaii operation. The Imperial Japanese Navy carried out an unexpected military attack on the United State’s naval base located at the Pearl Harbour. This operation was executed not on 7th December 1941 but on 8th December in Japan. The attack’s intention was to prevent the Pacific Fleet belonging to the United States from any interfering with the Japanese empire military actions. The military was then planning actions in Southeast Asia.
The plan was targeted on the overseas territories possessed by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Three hundred and fifty three Japanese fighters, torpedo planes and bombers attacked this naval base. Six aircrafts were used in the attack. All the eight battleships belonging to the U.S. were destroyed with four of the battleships sinking. Out of the eight, two battleships were raised and four were repaired.
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The Japanese damaged or sunk three cruisers, a training ship for anti-aircraft, three destroyers as well as one minelayer. This led to the destruction of the one hundred and eighty eight U.S. aircrafts, the demise of two thousand four hundred and two Americans while one thousand two hundred and eighty two Americans were wounded. The Japanese did not wage an attack on vital base installations like power stations, torpedo-storing facilities, submarine piers, shipyard as well as the intelligence section’s headquarters building. The fuel storage facilities were also not destroyed. The Japanese lost five submarines, sixty five servicemen died or even were captured, one sailor was captured and twenty nine aircrafts were lost.
The attack was a shock to the Americans and this led to a direct entry of America in the Second World War both in the European theatres and the Pacific. On 9th December 1941, the United States declared war as a counter attack against Japan. The policy of non-intervention exhibited by the U.S. was no more. The strong relentless routing for non-interventionism completely disappeared. It began to support Britain. This clandestine support saw the consequential formation of the Allied Powers between the America and Britain. Neutrality Patrol was therefore substituted with active alliance. This led Italy and Germany to also declare war on the U.S. on 11th December, 1941. This was influenced by the subsequent operations by the U.S..
Critiques postulate that the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbour was preventable owing to the military intelligence available. One of the major reasons for attack was premised on presumption of the innumerable historical precedents by Japan to attack without warning. There was no formal warning by Japan on the U.S. in spite of the negations between the two countries going on. Therefore, if only there was a formal warning from Japan, Hawaii Operation could have been preventable. If negotiations were allowed instead of war, this operation could have been well averted by the two countries. President Franklin D. Roosevelt consequently declared 7th December 1941 as the date that will subsist in infamy.
Numerous intelligence fragments pointed out clearly of the eminent and imminent plans by Japan to attack the Pearl Harbour. American Embassy in Tokyo, Japan was headed by Ambassador Joseph Grew. He was imperious and prided to be very close to Emperor Hirohito. This Japanese emperor was completely convinced that the ongoing negotiations between Japan and America could have assisted in averting the war. The former American diplomat Robert A. Fearey was one of the Joseph Grew’s assistants in Tokyo. Before his demise in 1965, he posited that Operation Hawaii could have been avoided if the then U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt could have agreed to meet with the then Prime Minister of Japan Fumimaro Konoye to settle the outstanding matters on August 1941. Honolulu was proposed for the meeting by Fumimaro Kanoye while the U.S. suggested that Juneau which was closer to Alaska. The Americans thought this would be closer to Roosevelt and that he did not have to travel from Washington to Honolulu as suggested by the Japanese leader. The State Department opposed this idea and went ahead to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to reject this very dangerous proposal as this would make the U.S. to have undue advantage over Japan.
Some U.S. diplomats based in Tokyo like Frank A. Schuler had actually picked up signals of Japan’s intention. Schuler’s intelligence reports of Japanese military lack of interest in the negotiations were not seriously taken otherwise, Operation Hawaii could have been avoided. Ricardo Rivera Schreiber who was the Peruvian Japan ambassador on 27th January, 1941 had paid Joseph Grew a very urgent call of the Japanese plan to attack the Pearl Harbour.
It is highly doubted that the cable dispatched to the State Department was really sent. Instead, information to tone whatever Ricardo Rivera Schreiber said was sent instead. Therefore, such vital information was not given credence by the U.S. officials. They instead deliberately took such intelligence for granted. This underscores the fact that if credence had actually been given to critical information like the one by Schreiber, Operation Hawaii could have been averted.
The U.S. military as well as the government possessed several clues on the imminent attack by Japan. The relations between Japan and the U.S. were obviously crumbling. Propaganda by Japan about the U.S. was rife. This meant that Japanese people were gearing for war. The U.S. government had not realized that Japan was capable of waging war on them. Intelligence reports about this propaganda could have helped the U.S. government decrypt Japanese plan on Operation Hawaii.
In addition, something of primary significance is the tension that existed between Japan and the U.S. owing to the completion of interests on China. Japan had actually been previously at war with the People’s Republic of China. The hostilities warnings on the U.S. were rife since Japan had teamed up with Germany and Italy. This meant that if Japan was to succeed in China, the Axis Powers would have been edged closer in a bid to conquer the British Empire. In spite of the non-interference policy by the U.S., they were involved passively since they did not respect the presence of Japan in China. This would have served the U.S. officials of inevitable retaliatory plans by the Japanese. Unfortunately, the U.S. underestimated Japan’s capacity to wage war against them.
The placing of an embargo by the United States on iron ore and oil on Japan in July 1941 was also suggestive of the declining relationship between the two countries. The United State’s position that Japan had to remove its troops in China did not also augur well with the Japanese. This was about six months even after warning was officially made about the Pearl Harbour planned attack. The embargo mentioned here on exacerbated the already weakening situation. Franklin D. Roosevelt blunders to change the venue of the scheduled meeting between him and the Japan Prime Minister from Hawaii to Alaska did not augur well with the Japanese. The regularly postponement ensured that the meeting did not actually take place eventually. However, to make matters worse, Tojo Hideski replaced Konoye as the Prime Minister in Japan. Hideski was not peaceful minded. This made Japan’s attack on the United State more advertent.
Had the United States not have been complacent, this war could have been prevented. They took Japan’s threat lightly. The United States therefore underestimated Japan’s ability to wage war against them. Had appropriate measures been taken and offensive measures been taken on Japan, the Hawaii Operation could have been well averted. This complacency failed completely to prevent this attack by Japan on the Pearl Harbour.
Some critiques suggest that the Pearl Harbour attack by Japan was deliberately not stopped by the United States administration. They postulate that this attack could hand them a plausible justification of their entry into the Second World War. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) played an integral role in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration and thus, CFR’s infiltration into the White House. This reason underscores the fact that if the United States had not intended to get into the Second World War, then the Hawaii operation could have well been avoided.
The United States is said to have been involved in the cracking of the existing radio code Tokyo was using to communicate with its own embassies. The U.S. decoded these messages and eventually they were known to Washington on a day to day basis. The decoded messages actually revealed that there were spies in Hawaii from Tokyo. These spies were supposed to inform Tokyo about the warship’s exact locations at the Pearl Harbour. Washington knew that the attack could occur around or on 7th December, 1941. Deliberately, they left Japan complete their mission as this would consequently justify their entrance into the Second World War. This means that even with intelligence reports about this Japanese plan to attack them, the United States took no preventive measures to curb the attack as this would have thwarted their plans of entering into the Second World War as they had no justification whatsoever.
Captain Johan Ranneft who was aligned to Dutch naval, on 6th December, 1941, informed the U.S. naval intelligence of the Japanese carriers in Honolulu. Washington acknowledged this but alert was not given to commanders who were based in Hawaii. This intelligent report by Johann Ranneft was deliberately overlooked and that was the reason why communication actually failed between Kimmel and Outerbridge.
Prior to the Hawaii operation, Admiral Richardson warned that vulnerability of the fleet was very high but without a plausible excuse, he was stripped his command at the Pearl Habour. Admiral Kimmel was Admiral Richardson predecessor. He had protested President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order to have Pacific Fleet base at the Pearl Harbour. The island was also stripped off the air defence before the Hawaii Operation. Surveillance planes were reduced to a third. This was a counter-preventive measure instead.
If the radar sightings had been seriously taken, the fleet could have easily prepared by taking the battleships in the open sea. The Japanese could have got that far without effective combat in the open sea. This means that appropriate strategies to counter the Japanese attack were not given credence to. Open sea could have assisted the United States military mitigate the fatality rate. The battleships ought to have been more instrumental in vanquishing the Japanese in the open sea. Spreading the fleet a lot more could also have been very beneficial. Some critiques argue that there was a possibility of defending the Pearl Harbour but the Japanese attack on the United States was just inevitable.
On 31st March 1941, there was a U.S. Navy intelligence report from Martin and Bellinger that clearly predicted that Japan was planning to strike Pearl Harbour. This was to be done without any prior warning. Navy planners thought that the American fleet was the singular threat to Japan. This was premised on the fact that Japan could not engage the American fleet on a head-on approach for fear of defeat. This meant that other strategic options for Japan were not eliminated.
Smith Hutton who was a U.S. Military Attaché in Tokyo reported that the Japanese Navy was secretly experimenting torpedo attacks through aircraft on capital ships that were situated at Ariake Bay. This was because Ariake Bay clearly resembled Pearl Harbour. This intelligent report again was not acted upon by the United States Department of State. This begs the question, was the United States incapable of preventing this attack with all the intelligence reports it got?
The Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbour could have been prevented if the pace that was used in updating the United States military fleet defensive as well as offensive characteristics were faster. The fleet suffered fatal shortages in fuel back up stocks, inadequate supplies and a severe shortage in ammunition replacements. The Navy was therefore, not ready for war at that point in time.
Admiral Richardson’s prediction was premised on reliable and tangible intelligence reports but it was overlooked. Unluckily, Franklin D. Roosevelt (F.D.R.) became irritated with Richardson and consequently opted for a command change. This was detrimental to the mechanisms that could have been laid down to curb this eminent and imminent danger. Frank Knox, who was the then Navy Secretary, dismissed the Japanese threats claiming that the United States military fleet could have finished off Japan in a matter of just three months. This was a dangerous presumption that was made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Roosevelt’s inner circle members. Thus, this underestimation of the Japanese could have been avoided and preventive and mitigation measures could have been undertaken. Admiral Kimmel who became Admiral Richardson’s successor posed no objections on the fleet that was in Hawaii. Kimmel was more malleable hence easily manipulated. He lacked the requisite candour and integrity that military leaders should possess. Were it not for the command change in the military, maybe the attack on Pearl Harbour could as well have been averted.
Despite the fact that the attack on Pearl Harbour was an unexpected attack, it could still have been well prevented using radar technology. Since radar was adequately advanced in summer 1940 in order for the British to assist them succeed in battles. The United States on the other hand lack sufficient and vital experience in the radar technology. This was the major problem encountered by the United States fleet at the Pearl Harbour. Were it not for the U.S. inexperience in the radar technology, this attack by the Japanese on 7th December, 1941 morning could have been prevented. The lack of enthusiasm about the new radar technology also led to communication failure. The telegraphs were used instead of the reliable radar technology which proved costly for the United States military fleet. With the radar technology, communication would have become more effective and very helpful in preventing the attack on America’s Pearl Harbour.
Placing embargos on Japan was also not correct. The United States could as well have continued to supply Japan with oil to fuel the war machines that were being used by the Japanese in their ongoing efforts to conquer China. Without the competing interests by both Japan and the United States on Japan, this attack on Pearl Harbour that was largely seen as retaliatory, could have been averted with utmost ease.
Conspiracy theorists posit that Franklin D. Roosevelt actually wanted war with Germany and Japan. It is said that he had actually been planning for it. The United States non-interference policy was as a result of the disillusionment after the First World War as well as on what happened during the Great Depression. The U.S. therefore enjoyed a bi-partisan support. Unluckily, the poverty in the Army meant that it had to train soldiers with guns made of wood. These conspiracy theorists postulate that McCollum memo which outlined the strategies that were to be used in Pacific was a proof that war was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s singular intention. Franklin D. Roosevelt, military officers as well as the naval officers based in Pacific took issue with Japan’s growing empire. The United States had to be wary of the Japanese for this reason. Otherwise, McCollum memo was not a blueprint for war but a strategy to contain Japan.