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IMPORTANCE OF ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR

3.2 HISTORY

SUBMITTED BY:

DEVANG GAUR

2ND YEAR, 3RD SEMESTER

(UID No– SM0117016)

SUBMITTED TO: MRS. NAMRATA GOGOI

NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY AND JUDICIAL ACADEMY, ASSAM

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TABLE OF CONTENT

1. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………….………………….3

1.1 LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………………………………..….4-5


1.2 SCOPE AND OBJECTIVE…………………………………..................................5
1.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY………………………………………………….6

2. JAPANESE ROLE IN PROVOKING AMERICA ENTRY IN WWII………………6-7

3. ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOUR AND ITS IMPACT…………............................8-11

4. WAR IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN & JAPAN DEFENCE PARAMETER…………11-12

5. BATTLE OF CORAL SEA AND MIDWAY……………………….……………..13-15

6. REASONS BEHIND JAPANESE AGGRESSION……………………………….21-23

7. CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………25

8. BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………………25

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1. INTRODUCTION

When the United States restricted the sale of oil to Japan in July 1941 in response to Japanese
expansion into Indochina, the Japanese had to find an alternative source of oil. The Dutch East
Indies were the only possible source of supply in the western Pacific region. Thus, American
strategists reasoned that a Japanese military move into the Indies would be their next logical step.
To deter such a move, President Roosevelt had directed that the battleships and aircraft carriers
of the U.S. Pacific Fleet be based at Pearl Harbor. This was the main juncture, and from here
itself we can trace the occurrence of the event of Pearl Harbor. With the American fleet crippled
in Pearl Harbor, the other parts of the Japanese master plan swing into action. Japanese forces
landed on the Malay Peninsula to begin their successful push toward the great British base at
Singapore. They took Thailand without resistance. Their planes bombed US air bases in the
Philippines, and troops landed on the U.S. territories of Wake Island and Guam and at British
Hong Kong. All these would fall to the Japanese by year's end. The Japanese hoped that their
string of we11- defended bases and their fine navy would be sufficient to keep the growing
American strength at bay. They hoped to defeat newly arriving American forces bit by bit in a
prolonged war of attrition. These are some key elements which have been pondered upon in this
project. Moreover, the Japanese hoped that it would cause the American people to become
disheartened and willing to make a compromise peace that would let Japan keep her newly
acquired territory. But the incidents which took place in the Pacific Ocean were basically a series
of events and thus were termed as the Pacific Ocean theatre. In the following research through
the help of various chapters we will see the important developments rather the events which took
place in the mean while. The Japanese military was convinced of the willingness of its people to
go to any sacrifice for their nation, and it was contemptuous of the "softness" of the U.S. and
European democracies, where loyalty and patriotism were tempered by the rights and well-being
of the individual. However, if we the International forum, Today Japan and the United States are
close allies. But between 1941 and 1945, they fought a bitter and bloody war, which many
people remember well today. Eventually, this research tries to highlight the structure and the
reasons behind the occurrence of mentioned events.

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1.1 LITERATURE REVIEW

 Zimm, Alan D, Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions, page number
165-172, Casemate Publishing, 2011.

In this article, emphasize is given on the circumstance which led to the event of Pearl Harbor. It
highlights as to how the attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise, but Japan and the United States
had been edging toward war for decades. It brings out the fact that how The United States was
particularly unhappy with Japan‘s increasingly belligerent attitude toward China. The Japanese
government believed that the only way to solve its economic and demographic problems was to
expand into its neighbor‘s territory and take over its import market. These views have helped
the research to focus on the event of Pearl Harbor. American officials responded to this
aggression with a battery of economic sanctions and trade embargoes. They reasoned that
without access to money and goods, and especially essential supplies like oil, Japan would have
to rein in its expansionism. Instead, the sanctions made the Japanese more determined to stand
their ground. During months of negotiations between Tokyo and Washington D.C., neither side
would budge. It seemed that war was all but inevitable. Thus this article was indeed of great
help in framing the basic concept.

 Norman Lowe, Modern World History, 3 rd ed. 1997, pg no- 99-102, Macmillan Publishers India
ltd.

This Book gives a starting to the entry of the United State of America in the World war including
several wars which took place, like the war of Midway. This book helps the researcher in
developing the idea behind the situation of which led to several wars between the allied and axis
forces. It also depicts that how the turning point in the Pacific theatre came in mid-1942 with
history's first great carrier battles. In the Coral Sea the U.S. Navy checked the Japanese. In
the Battle of Midway it defeated them. The fact, that, after the Battle of Midway, the Allies were
able to launch a counter-offensive is emphasized on through this project. The point that the first
stage of the offensive began with the Navy under Admiral Nimitz and Marine landings
on Guadalcanal and nearby islands in the Solomons is also taken into consideration.

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 Japan‘s Quest for Power and World War II in Asia, 2009, Columbia.edu, published by Asia for
Educators, Columbia University.

This article published by the Columbia online database, points out the reason and background
behind the Great War. Starting with the Economic background wherein the United States was
still struggling to emerge from the Great Depression at the end of the 1930s, and would do so
partly because of the war, Japan had emerged from its own period of depression. Their
commitment to the military effort to expand Japanese territory to achieve economic security can
be understood partly in these terms. The great powers not only jealously protected their special
economic rights within their colonies and spheres of influence, but sought to bolster their
sagging economies through high tariffs, dumping of goods, and other trade manipulation. These
aspects are highlighted in this project with the help of this article. Furthermore, The Japanese,
with few natural resources, sought to copy this pattern. The emperor-based ideology of Japan
during World War II was a relatively new creation, dating from the efforts of Meiji oligarchs to
unite the nation in response to the Western challenge. The Japanese military was convinced of
the willingness of its people to go to any sacrifice for their nation, and it was contemptuous of
the "softness" of the U.S. and European democracies, where loyalty and patriotism were
tempered by the rights and well-being of the individual. However, if we the International forum,
Today Japan and the United States are close allies. But between 1941 and 1945, they fought a
bitter and bloody war, which many people remember well today. Thus this article has helped the
research in giving it a reason behind all the arguments which it tends to put forward.

1.2 SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES

The scope of the project is limited to the study of incident which took place at the Pearl Harbor
and the Pacific Ocean theatre of World War II. Moreover the scope is also to see as to what were
the reasons behind this event which changed the nature of world war completely. In furtherance
to this the objective of this project is basically to analyze the mentioned events and its
importance in the world history.

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1.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Researcher conducted Doctrinal type of research to collect data and gather appropriate
information about the particular topic. The use of library sources and internet sources has greatly
supplemented the research. Various books pertaining to the subject have been taken into
consideration. Secondary data is used throughout the research which involves study of various
books, articles and journals.

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2. JAPANESE ROLE IN PROVOKING AMERICA ENTRY IN WW II

The years leading up to the assertion of battle between the Axis and Allied powers in 1939 have
been tumultuous instances for people throughout the globe. The fine depression had started a
decade before, leaving much of the sector unemployed and desperate. Nationalism was sweeping
by way of Germany, and it chafed against the punitive measures of the Versailles Treaty that had
ended World battle I. China and the Empire of Japan had been at warfare considering the fact
that Japanese troops invaded Manchuria in 1931. Germany, Italy, and Japan had been checking
out the newly situated League of international locations with multiple invasions and occupations
of neighborhood nations, and felt emboldened after they encountered no significant penalties.
The question arises that what was Japan‘s role in provoking America entry in the world war.
Why did Japan attack the United States? This is a more complicated question. Japan knew the
United States was economically and military powerful, but it was not afraid of any American
attack on its islands. Japan did worry however, that the Americans might help the Chinese resist
the Japanese invasion of their country1. When President Roosevelt stopped U.S. shipments of
steel and oil the Japan, he was doing exactly this: the Japanese are dependent on other countries
for raw materials, for they have almost none on their own islands. Without imports of steel and
oil, the Japanese military could not fight for long.2 Without oil, the navy would not be able to
move after it had exhausted its six-month reserve. Roosevelt hoped that this economic pressure
would force Japan to end its military expansion in East Asia. The Japanese military saw another
solution to the problem, they thought that if it could quickly conquer the British and Dutch
colonies in Southeast Asia and gain complete control of the oil, rubber, and other raw materials it
needed, then it could defend its interests in China and Indo china against those Europeans who
were now busy fighting a major war in Europe against the Germans and Italians. The only force
that could stop the Japanese was the American Pacific fleet which was conveniently gathered
close to Japan at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Knowing that many Americans did not want to fight a
war against Japan, the military thought that if it suddenly destroyed the U.S. fleet, America
would simply give up and allow Japan to consolidate its grasp on East Asia. It is true that Japan
was not militarily or economically powerful enough to fight a long war against the United States,
1
http://www.genealogycenter.info/military/images/dittoediary/Dittoe-Diary-Pearl-Harbor-History-Speeches_2.pdf
2
Japan‘s Quest for Power and World War II in Asia, 2009, Columbia.edu, published by Asia for Educators,
Columbia University.

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and the Japanese military knew this. Its attack on Pearl Harbor was a tremendous gamble and
though the short-run gamble was successful, the long-run gamble was lost because the Japanese
were wrong about the American reaction. But behind this mistake was another, earlier
miscalculation. Ever since Commodore Perry's fleet opened Japan in 1853, in an era of great
colonial expansion, the Japanese had watched the European powers dominate East Asia and
establish colonies and trading privileges. After an amazingly short time, Japan was able to
develop the economic and military strength to join this competition for dominance of the Asian
mainland. Japan defeated China in 1895 and Russia in 1905, in battles over who should dominate
Korea. Japan joined the allies against Germany in 1914-18 in a struggle to control a portion of
China and then conquered Manchuria in 1931 in an effort to secure a land area rich in raw
materials. The Japanese nation and its military, which controlled the government by the 1930s,
felt that it then could, and should, control all of East Asia by military force. Japan's military
invasions of other Asian countries, however, brought resistance from not only the European
colonial powers, but also the Asian people themselves, and finally, the United States. The
Japanese military tried to convince the Japanese people that complete loyalty and obedience
would make Japan invincible. Eventually great power like USA was now officially a participant
in the World war.

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3. ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOUR AND ITS IMPACT

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is located near the center of the Pacific Ocean, roughly 2,000 miles from
the U.S. mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan. Therefore, no one believed that the
Japanese would start a war with an attack on the distant islands of Hawaii. Additionally,
American intelligence officials were confident that any Japanese attack would take place in one
of the relatively nearby European colonies in the South Pacific: the Dutch East Indies,
Singapore or Indochina. Because American military leaders were not expecting an attack so
close to home, the naval facilities at Pearl Harbor were relatively undefended. Almost the entire
Pacific Fleet was moored around Ford Island in the harbor, and hundreds of airplanes were
squeezed onto adjacent airfields. To the Japanese, Pearl Harbor was an irresistibly easy target.
To begin with, The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 that morning. The entire
attack took only one hour and 15 minutes. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida sent the code message, ―Tora,
Tora, Tora,‖ to the Japanese fleet after flying over Oahu to indicate the Americans had been
caught by surprise. The Japanese planned to give the U.S. a declaration of war before the attack
began so they would not violate the first article of the Hague Convention of 1907. But the
message was delayed and not relayed to U.S. officials in Washington until the attack was already
in progress, turning Pearl Harbor into a sneak attack! The Japanese strike force consisted of 353
aircraft launched from four heavy carriers. These included 40 torpedo planes, 103 level bombers,
131 dive-bombers, and 79 fighters. 3 The attack also consisted of two heavy cruisers, 35
submarines, two light cruisers, nine oilers, two battleships, and 11 destroyers. The attack killed
2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships,
including 8 battleships. The three aircraft carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were out to sea on
maneuvers. The Japanese were unable to locate them and a planned third wave of attack planes
was never launched. The U.S. still had their carrier fleet intact. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and
5 midget submarines in the attack. One Japanese soldier was taken prisoner and 129 Japanese
sailors and airmen were killed. Out of all the Japanese ships that participated in the attack on
Pearl Harbor only one, the Ushio, survived until the end of the war. It was surrendered to the
U.S. at Yokosuka Naval Base. When Admiral Yamamoto learned that his forces had not
destroyed the U.S. aircraft carriers or completely destroyed the U.S. fleet, he feared that the

3
A J Barker, Pearl Harbor (New York: Ballantine Publishing, 1969), p. 11.

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United States, with its enormous industrial potential, would soon recover and fight back. The
attack struck all parts of the harbor at once because all the Japanese pilots had pre designated
targets. Within moments the battleship Arizona exploded and sank after a bomb set off her
ammunition magazines. Soon all remaining battleships were sunk or badly damaged. Altogether
some 2,400 American servicemen had been killed and another 1,200 had been wounded.
Nineteen ships had been sunk or severely damaged, including all eight of the battleships. Over
230 planes had been destroyed on the ground. Loss of oil would have hindered later American
naval operations even more than the damage done to the ships. Also, important repair yards and
machine shops, which would make possible the eventual salvage and return to duty of fourteen
of the nineteen ships disabled by the attack, were practically untouched. The Japanese plan was
simple to destroy the Pacific Fleet. That way, the Americans would not be able to fight back as
Japan‘s armed forces spread across the South Pacific. On December 7, after months of planning
and practice, the Japanese launched their attack. Thus USS Arizona had to bears the brunt
initially. 4 Next, torpedoes pierced the shell of the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors
aboard, the Oklahoma lost her balance, rolled onto her side and slipped underwater. By the time
the attack was over, every battleship in Pearl Harbor—USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS
California, USS West Virginia, USS Utah, USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS
Tennessee and USS Nevada—had sustained significant damage. President Franklin D.
Roosevelt addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress on December 8, the day after the
crushing attack on Pearl Harbor. ―Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in
infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air
forces of the Empire of Japan.‖ He went on to say, ―No matter how long it may take us to
overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win
through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when
I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that
this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.‖The fact could not be denied that Japan
had awakened the ‗sleeping giant‘.5

4
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a263962.pdf
5
Pearl Harbor: Deterrence Theory and DecisionTheory by Bruce M. Russett First Published June 1, 1967.

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IMPACT

In all, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor crippled or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and
more than 300 airplanes. Dry docks and airfields were likewise destroyed. Most important,
2,403 sailors, soldiers and civilians were killed and about 1,000 people were wounded. But the
Japanese had failed to cripple the Pacific Fleet. Although only chance saved the American
aircraft carriers, their survival was a major blow. However, the primary problem with the attack
was the planning. Had Japan focused beyond the fleet and targeted the crucial shore facilities and
oil reserves, it could have inflicted far greater and more lasting damage. As it was, of the ships
damaged or sunk on December 7th 1941, only three - the Arizona, Pearl Harbor and the invasion
of South-east Asia showcased Japan at its best capable of massive daring and painstaking
preparation. Operationally brilliant, the attack was nonetheless strategically disastrous. Never
again would Japan have the opportunity to act with such forethought and planning. It got itself
the short term breathing space it wanted, but also a war against both Britain and America. To
invite such confrontation was the result of courage, optimism and (possibly) madness on a
massive scale. Japan lost. Faced with American military and economic might, it could never
really win. So why all the conspiracy theories? Maybe because some just cannot accept that on
the day, in round one, their boys were beaten by the better team.6 Despite the attack's apparent
success at the time, the Japanese had made three serious miscalculations. First, they had counted
heavily on the efforts of twenty submarines deployed in the area and five midget submarines
launched for the attack. As far as is known, none of the midgets reached then" targets, and the
other submarines were never able to successfully interdict the sea-lanes between California and
Pearl Harbor.7 Second, rather than demoralize their American enemy, as had the sneak attacks on
their Chinese foes in 1894 and the Russians in 1904, the attack on Pearl Harbor roused and
infuriated the American public in general, and the U.S. Navy in particular, as nothing else could
have. Third, and perhaps most important, the attack forcibly altered the mind-set of the senior
American naval leadership, which had until then believed that the dominant ships in naval
warfare would be battleships. After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. and its allies had no choice but to
build their offense in the Pacific around the aircraft carrier. The Japanese held to a belief in the

6
At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W Prange (1991). The definitive history of Pearl
Harbor.
7
Arnold Lott and Robert Sumrall, Pearl Harbor Attack (New Jersey: Leeward Publications, 1974), p. 5.

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superiority of a battleship-centered strategy limit the end. History would show that the carrier,
not the battleship, would be the dominant naval weapon in the Pacific in World War II, as it has
been in all the major navies of the ,world ever since. With the American fleet crippled in Pearl
Harbor, the other parts of the Japanese master plan swing into action. Japanese forces landed on
the Malay Peninsula to begin their successful push toward the great British base at Singapore.
They took Thailand without resistance. Their planes bombed U.S. air bases in the Philippines,
and troops landed on the U.S. territories of Wake Island and Guam and at British Hong Kong.
All these would fall to the Japanese by year's end. Into the confusion of successive defeats in the
Pacific came the new commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. He
arrived at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Day and assumed command in a brief ceremony aboard a
submarine on 31 December.8

It was up to him to win the biggest naval war the United States had ever faced. Nimitz was quiet
and unruffled, inspiring confidence. There was no question that was rolling the show. Nimitz
was to prove equal to the monumental task he had been assigned. Admiral King's first
instructions to Nimitz were clear, first to cover and hold the Hawaii-Midway line and maintain
communications ·with the U.S. West Coast and second to maintain communications between the
West Coast and Australia by holding a line drawn north to south from Dutch Harbor in the
Aleutian Islands of Alaska, through Midway to Samoa, then southwest to New Caledania and
Port Moresby, New Guinea. The order 'was to hold the line against any further Japanese
advance. Available forces were to be sacrificed in delaying Japanese advances in the Dutch East
Indies in order to hold that defense line. Forces would be sent to the Pacific to reinforce as they
became available. In the meantime, the United States was going to have to make a major effort in
the Atlantic in order to keep the sea-lanes open to Britain and thwart the massive German threat
facing the British and Soviet allies.9

8
Warner, Denis and Peggy. The Tide at Sunrise. New York: Charterhouse, 1974.
9
Fuchida, Mitsuo and Okumiya, Masatake. Midway. New York: Ballantine Books, 1958.

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4. WAR IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN & JAPAN DEFENCE PARAMETER

The Pacific Ocean theatre, during World War II was a major theater of the war between the
Allies and Japan. It was defined by the Allied powers' Pacific Ocean Area command, which
included most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, while mainland Asia was excluded, as were
the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia, most of the Territory of New Guinea
and the western part of the Solomon Islands.10 It officially came into existence on March 30,
1942, when US Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed Supreme Allied Commander Pacific
Ocean Areas.

THE JAPANESE DEFENSE PERIMETER

The Japanese had now established their defense perimeter. Anchored by Rangoon in the Indian
Ocean area, it included all of the Dutch East Indies and northern New Guinea on the south,
extending to include Rabaul on New Britain and Kavieng on nearby New Ireland in the
southwest. It then crossed the Pacific northward to newly acquired Wake, Guam, and the British
Gilbert Islands. On the northern flank Japan was protected by bases in the Kurile Islands. Japan
had also improved its many bases in the islands acquired from Germany during World War I-the
Carolines, Marshalls, and Marianas. Japan made Trunk in the Carolines into its "Pearl Harbor" of
the central Pacific and developed Rabaul into a major forward base for further expansion
southwestward.11 Only on the central perimeter, near Midway Island, did a gap exist. Admiral
Yamamoto wanted to seal this gap, but the Japanese General Staff felt it was not necessary. The
Japanese hoped that their string defended bases and their fine navy would be sufficient to keep
the growing American strength at bay. They hoped to defeat newly arriving American forces bit
by bit in a prolonged war of attrition. This, they hoped, would cause the American people to
become disheartened and willing to make a compromise peace that would let Japan keep her
newly acquired territory. But Admiral Nimitz, the U.S. Navy, and the American people would
not let the Japanese achieve their hopes.

LIMITED OFFENSE BECOMES THE BEST DEFENSE

10
U.S Army Centre for Military History, The Pacific theatre, accessed from http://www.worldwar2history.info/, on
28.10.17.
11
Keegan, John. The Second World War. New York: Penguin Book, 1990.

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Admiral Nimitz knew that the Japanese were planning additional moves to the southwest.
Unknown to them, the Japanese naval code had been broken by U.S. naval intelligence. Thus, on
many crucial occasions throughout the war, Japanese plans were known ahead of time. This
allowed successful countermeasures to be planned and executed. Nimitz felt that he could best
defend the sea lanes to Australia by attacking Japanese bases in the central Pacific with carrier
task forces in a series of hit-and run raids. This would cause much concern in the Japanese high
command. Yamamoto himself was afraid that the Americans might even attempt a raid on Tokyo
and endanger the emperor's life. Vice Admiral William Halsey was selected as the man to strike
the Japanese bases. He was to conduct raids at widely separated locations so as to cause the
Japanese the most anxiety. 12Halsey even hoped to make them believe that there were more U.S.
naval task forces in the region than they thought existed. Back home the press exaggerated the
effects of the raids and greatly boosted American public morale, and so the raids achieved part of
their purpose. Then came an electrifying surprise U.S. attack on the Japanese home islands. In
April 1942, Halsey's carrier shocking force boldly sailed deep into Japanese waters with sixteen
long-range Army B-25s lashed to the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Homel. The plan was
to latch the bombers on a one-way mission to the Japanese home islands as soon as the force
approached within maximum range. On 18 April the all-volunteer pilots, led by Army Lieutenant
Colonel James Doolittle, successfully took off when the force had come within 660 miles of
Japan. They made air raids on Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kobe. None of the B-25s were lost over
Japan. They then continued on into China, since they did not have sufficient fuel to return to the
carrier.13 Most escaped in friendly Chinese territory, though some were captured and executed in
Japanese-controlled areas. The Japanese armed forces were humiliated. Their boast that the
sacred territory of the Land of the Rising Sun would never be attacked was proved wrong.
Yamamoto's plans to attack Midway in June in order to close the gap in the Japanese defense
perimeter were no revived. Another Japanese move into the Coral Sea to cut the sea-lanes to
Australia was put into action for early May. A third Japanese move, a two-pronged thrust into the
Solomon Islands and toward Port Moresby in New Guinea, also was started. Nirnitz, aware of
these intentions through decoding of Japanese messages, planned his own actions carefully.

12
Martin, David C. and Walcott, John. Best Laid Elflflg,‖ The Maids Story of America's War Against Terrorism.‖
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988.
13
Trefousse, Hans Louis. What Happened at Pearl Harbor. New York: United Printing serves Inc, 1958.

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5. BATTLE OF CORAL SEA AND MIDWAY

CORAL SEA- Nimitz directed his carrier task groups to converge on the Coral Sea to stop the
Japanese moves toward the Solomons. The Lexington and her group were sent to reinforce Rear
Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher's Yorktown group. On 8 May the Battle of the Coral Sea was
fought. It was the first great combat between carrier forces, with neither fleet ever coming into
sight of the other. Both groups launched their attack waves about the same time. The Japanese
had several advantages: fliers with more combat experience, better torpedoes, and a storm front
that partly concealed their movements. The opposing waves hit the two task groups almost
simultaneously. The Japanese carrier Shokaku was severely damaged, and both the Yorktown
and Lexington were hit. The Lexington was struck by two torpedoes, which ruptured her fuel
lines and caused major explosions. The ship had to be abandoned and was later sunk by one of
her own escorting destroyers. The Battle of the Coral Sea turned back the Japanese advance for
the first time in the Pacific war. Even though the American losses were somewhat greater, the
strategic victory was clearly on the side of the United States. While only one Japanese carrier
was sunk, another was damaged, and the third lost so many aviators it was kept out of the
Midway operation. Nagumo's Midway force would be short three carriers for the major action of
Yamamoto's grand plan.

MIDWAY-

In mid-1942 Yamamoto's Combined Fleet had immense numerical superiority over Allied forces
in the Pacific. But he devised a curious battle plan that split his forces into ten separate groups,
spread all the way from the Aleutian Islands to Midway itself. The Japanese Combined Fleet was
a huge armada of eleven battleships, eight carriers, twenty-three cruisers, and sixty-five
destroyers. They were pitted against Nimitz's small force of three carriers, eight cruisers, and
fourteen destroyers. The key to the impending action however was U.S. intelligence. Nimitz had
deduced the entire major movements In the Japanese plan through radio intercepts and code
breaking. The Americans were not going to be surprised-much to the astonishment of the
Japanese. The first action occurred on 3 June 1942, with a Japanese diversionary attack on Dutch
Harbor in the Aleutians. A scout plane ranging 700 miles to sea from Midway alerted the

15
Midway defenders. Fletcher drew his two task forces in to within 200 miles of Midway and
waited. 14

Nagumo launched his first attack of 108 planes against Midway at dawn on the fourth. Fletcher
located the Japanese force with patrol bombers and then ordered Rear Admiral Raymond
Spruance in the Enterprise to attack while the Yorktown recovered the search planes. At the
same time, all aircraft on Midway took off to attack the Japanese force. The American planes
proved to be no match for the Zero fighters and were quickly shot down. Nagumo now was faced
with four hours of fast action and difficult decisions. His carriers were successively attacked by
torpedo planes and bombers, none of which scored a hit and almost all of which were shot down.
Then an American submarine penetrated his formation and fired torpedoes, all of which missed.
Finally, the aircraft returning from the first Midway attack re- ported that another attack was
needed to destroy the runways there. At almost the same time, Nagumo received word of the
American carrier task force. He changed course to approach it and ordered that the bombs that
had been loaded on aircraft for the second Midway attack be replaced with torpedoes for an
attack on the U.S. carrier force. The bombs were left lying on the deck. At the same time the first
Midway attack wave returned, and Nagumo ordered that the planes be recovered before
launching the second wave. Nagumo's force was now attacked by three low and slow waves of
U.S. carrier torpedo planes, all of which were shot down in flames before they could score a hit.
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Their sacrifice would not be in vain, however. Nagumo had now turned back eight attacks in
three hours without a scratch. But his luck had run out. About to launch the counterattack, the
four Japanese carriers turned into the wind. At that moment another American wave of dive
bombers from the Enterprise and Yorktown came screaming down on a high-altitude dive-
bombing attack. They met almost no resistance from the Japanese combat air patrol, which had
been pulled down to meet the previous American low-level torpedo attack. The Americans
caught the Japanese carriers with planes on their flight decks about to take off, other planes.
Refueling, and the off-loaded bombs lying around waiting to be returned to the magazines.
American bombs hit the carriers Soryo, Kaga, and Akagi and turned them into flaming torches in
minutes. Only the carrier Hiryu, farther north, escaped this attack. Her dive bombers followed

14
Fuchida, Mitsuo and Okumiya, Masatake. Midway. New York: Ballantine Books, 1958.
15

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the Yorktown's planes back and stopped the U.S. carrier with three hits. Additional hits by
torpedo planes caused Fletcher to abandon his flagship and turn tactical command over to
Admiral Spruance. About the time the Yorktown was being abandoned, her search planes
discovered the Hiryu and reported her location and course. A short rune later a wave of dive
bombers from the Enterprise set the Hiryu on fire with four direct bomb hits. Yamamoto was
now without aircraft carriers to protect his main body of heavy warships. Though he ordered a
counterattack during the night with four cruisers of his bombardment force, he canceled the
Midway operation in the early hours of the morning, rather than have his surface force exposed
to a daylight dive-bombing attack. He ordered his entire force to retire to the west. The cruiser
force now came under attack by a U.S. submarine, and in the process of dodging torpedoes, two
of them, the Mogami and Mikuma, collided. On 6 June Spruance located the damaged ships and
sank the Mikuma. The final action came when the Yorktown, which was under tow after being
abandoned, was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The spread of torpedoes also sank an escorting
U.S. destroyer. The Battle of Midway was the turning point in the Pacific war. The Japanese loss
of four carriers and a cruiser was compounded by the loss of her best Japanese carrier pilots. This
loss of pilots was one of the chief causes of Japan's ultimate defeat at sea. After Midway, new
aviators sent to the carrier fleet were less prepared to face the growing number of well-trained
American pilots. Only the Japanese northern forces had achieved success in Yamamoto's grand
plan. They had succeeded in occupying Kiska and Attu in the Aleutian Islands without
resistance. But from then on, the Japanese would never be able to launch a major offensive.

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6. REASONS BEHIND JAPANESE AGRESSION
Economic Background-While the United States was still struggling to emerge from the Great
Depression at the end of the 1930s, and would do so partly because of the war, Japan had
emerged from its own period of depression, which had begun in 1926, by the mid-1930s. Many
of the young soldiers mobilized into the Japanese army by the early 1930s came from the rural
areas, where the effects of the depression were devastating and poverty was widespread. Their
commitment to the military effort to expand Japanese territory to achieve economic security can
be understood partly in these terms. The depression ended in the mid-1930s in Japan partly
because of government deficits used to expand greatly both heavy industry and the military.
Internationally, this was a time when "free trade" was in disrepute. The great powers not only
jealously protected their special economic rights within their colonies and spheres of influence,
but sought to bolster their sagging economies through high tariffs, dumping of goods, and other
trade manipulation. The Japanese, with few natural resources, sought to copy this pattern. They
used cut throat trade practices to sell textiles and other light industrial goods in the East Asian
and U.S. markets, severely undercutting British and European manufacturers. They also
developed sources of raw materials and heavy industry in the colonies they established in Korea,
Taiwan and Manchuria. Japan used high tariffs to limit imports of American and European
industrial products. Moreover the Japanese military faced a particular tactical problem in that
certain critical raw materials, especially oil and rubber were not available within the Japanese
sphere of influence. Instead, Japan received most of its oil from the United States and rubber
from British Malaya, the very two Western nations trying to restrict Japan's expansion. U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's embargo of oil exports to Japan pressured the Japanese navy,
which had stocks for only about six months of operations.16

The Japanese army, for its part, was originally concerned with fighting the Soviet Union,
because of the army's preoccupation with Manchuria and China. The Japanese army governed
Manchuria indirectly through the "puppet" state of Manchukuo and developed heavy industry
there under its favorite agencies, disliking and distrusting the zaibatsu (large Japanese
corporations). But the Soviet army's resistance to Japanese attacks was sufficient to discourage
northern expansion. Meanwhile in 1937, the intensification of Chinese resistance to the pressure

16
Barker, A J. Pearl Harbor. New York: Ballantine Books Inc, 1969.

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of the Japanese military drew Japan into a draining war in the vast reaches of China proper, and
in 1940 into operations in French Indochina, far to the south. Thus, when the navy pressed for a
"southern" strategy of attacking Dutch Indonesia to get its oil and British Malaya to control its
rubber, the army agreed. While it seems that economic factors were important in Japanese
expansion in East Asia, it would be too much to say that colonialism, trade protection, and the
American embargo compelled Japan to take this course. Domestic politics, ideology and racism
also played a role.

DOMESTIC POLITICS

The political structure of Japan at this time was inherited from the Meiji era and was increasingly
dominated by the military. During the Meiji period, the government was controlled by a small
ruling group of elder statesmen who had overthrown the shogun and established the new
centralized Japanese state. These men used their position to coordinate the bureaucracy, the
military, the parliament, the Imperial Household, and other branches of government. Following
their deaths in the early 1920s, no single governmental institution was able to establish full
control, until the 1931 Manchurian Incident, when Japan took control of Manchuria. This began
a process in which the military behaved autonomously on the Asian mainland and with
increasing authority in politics at home. From 1937 on, Japan was at war with China. By the time
General Hideki Tôjô became prime minister and the war against the United States began in 1941,
the nation was in a state of "total war" and the military and their supporters were able to force
their policies on the government and the people. The wartime regime used existing government
controls on public opinion, including schools and textbooks, the media, and the police, but Japan
continued to have more of an authoritarian government than a totalitarian one like Hitler's
Germany. In particular, the government was never able to gain real control of the economy and
the great zaibatsu, which were more interested in the economic opportunities provided by the
military's policies than in submitting loyally to a patriotic mission. 17 The emperor has been
criticized for not taking a more forceful action to restrain his government, especially in light of
his own known preference for peace, but Japanese emperors after the Meiji Restoration had

17
Japan‘s Quest for Power and World War II in Asia, 2009, Columbia.edu, published by Asia for Educators,
Columbia University.

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"reigned but not ruled."18 One wonders if a more forceful emperor in fact could have controlled
the army and navy at this late date. The doubts are strengthened in light of the difficulty the
emperor had in forcing the military to accept surrender after the atomic bombings. The emperor's
decision at that point to bring agreement among his advisers was an extraordinary event in
Japanese history.

IDEOLOGY

The emperor-based ideology of Japan during World War II was a relatively new creation, dating
from the efforts of Meiji oligarchs to unite the nation in response to the Western challenge.
Before the Meiji Restoration, the emperor wielded no political power and was viewed simply as
a symbol of the Japanese culture. He was the head of the Shintô religion, Japan's native religion,
which holds, among other beliefs, that the emperor is descended from gods who created Japan
and is therefore semi divine. Westerners of that time knew him only as a shadowy figure
somewhat like a pope. The Meiji oligarchs brought the emperor and Shintô to national
prominence, replacing Buddhism as the national religion, for political and ideological reasons —
since Buddhism had originated in India and come to Japan via China. The people were not
allowed to look at the emperor, or even to speak his name; patriotism had been raised to the
unassailable level of sacredness. It is sometimes difficult to comprehend the extreme sacrifices
the Japanese made in the name of the emperor. This can perhaps best be viewed, however, as
extreme patriotism — Japanese were taught to give their lives, if necessary, for their emperor. 19
But this was not entirely different from the Americans who gave their lives in the same war for
their country and the "American" way.

RACISM

The Japanese were proud of their many accomplishments and resented racial slurs they met with
in some Western nations. Their attempt to establish a statement of racial equality in the Covenant
of the League of Nations was vetoed by the United States (because of opposition in California)
and Great Britain (Australian resistance). The Japanese greatly resented this. The Japanese
military was convinced of the willingness of its people to go to any sacrifice for their nation, and

18
Prange, Gordon W. At Dawn We Slept. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981.
19
Ibid 4.

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it was contemptuous of the "softness" of the U.S. and European democracies, where loyalty and
patriotism were tempered by the rights and well-being of the individual. The military's
overconfidence in its own abilities and underestimation of the will of these other nations were
thus rooted in its own misleading ethnic and racial stereotypes. While Asians, the Japanese saw
themselves as less representatives of Asia than Asia's champion.20They sought to liberate Asian
colonies from the Westerners, whom they disdained. But although the Japanese were initially
welcomed in some Asian colonies by the indigenous populations whom they "liberated" from
European domination, the arrogance and racial prejudice displayed by the Japanese military
governments in these nations created great resentment. This resentment is still evident in some
Southeast Asian nations.

20
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a263962.pdf

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CONCLUSION

Today Japan and the United States are close allies. But between 1941 and 1945, they fought a
bitter and bloody war, which many people remember well today. There is no doubt that Pearl
Harbor was very unfortunate event in the History and it created an environment of war as it
awakened the mightiest rather it awakened a sleeping giant, the US. ‗A date which live in
infamy‘, these were the words of the president Roosevelt, when he addressed the Congress after
the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack was so sudden and severe that on the very next day of the
attack, it seemed that the sun rose through thick black smoke that blanketed the devastated
harbor. However it is also noticed throughout the project that how Americans tried to counter
and respond to the massive attack. Furthermore, as a direct response to the Pearl Harbor, James
H. Doolittle, led 16 B-25 bombers on a mission to attack military layouts in Japan. It was
followed by several battles which have already been mentioned. The events which followed just
worsened the situation and also it gave shape to the future of World War II. Before the America's
entry in World War II, things were totally different but, when Japan attacked US on Pearl harbor,
leaving it into a very poor condition made US realize that it's time to show the world its power.
After that there was no going back, US was shocked by the huge loss it faced and it began
preparing for the biggest attack. The Japanese military tried to convince the Japanese people that
complete loyalty and obedience would make Japan invincible. Japan's early victories seemed to
prove this, but the U.S. victory at Midway Island in June 1942 led to the steady encirclement of
the Japanese islands, cutting them off from needed supplies of raw materials. The Japanese navy
was destroyed. When this was followed by massive bombardment from the air and the final blow
of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese invincibility was proven to
be a myth. At the end of the war, the Japanese nation was not only starving and devastated by the
bombing, but bewildered and shocked by the defeat. Eventually these events of Pearl Harbor and
the wars at the Pacific Ocean proved to be vital elements of entire World War II.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

 Japan‘s Quest for Power and World War II in Asia, 2009, Columbia.edu, published by Asia
for Educators, Columbia University.

 Norman Lowe, Modern World History, 3 rd ed. 1997, pg no- 99-102, Macmillan Publishers
India ltd.

 Zimm, Alan D, Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions, page number
165-172, Casemate Publishing, 2011.

 Pearl Harbor: Deterrence Theory and Decision Theory by Bruce M. Russett First
Published June 1, 1967.

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