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Pearl Harbor Attack, Its Reasons and Casualties


The Pearl Harbor attack was an unexpected military attack by the Japanese royal army (Lord 2-7). The attack started early in the morning at around 7.00 am and lasted for about two hours. During the attack, about eighteen American ships and about three hundred airplanes were destroyed. About eight ships sank in the process. One of the ships was later raised, six returned to the surface by themselves.

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Other war equipment that was damaged include destroyers, cruisers, a training warship, as well as a mine-layer (Lord 2-5). The attackers also targeted other key facilities such as reservation tanks, the naval base main office, the main power supply, and many others. In the process, Japan also lost some of its equipment including about thirty airplanes, and the other seventy-four were damaged by fire.


Close to two thousand Americans died in the process, with scores wounded. Most of those who perished at Pearl Harbor was on the Arizona battleship (Lord 1-4). In general, close to two thousand sailors perished with about seven hundred wounded. In addition, close to two hundred soldiers died and about three hundred were seriously wounded. About one hundred marines perished and about seventy sustained severe injuries.

Approximately, seventy civilians died and about forty were seriously wounded. In fact, it was the attack on the Arizona battleship that plunged the US into the war (Der-Vat 1-7). Most of the Americans who succumbed were workers in the military and civilians as there was no war between the two countries. In the process, the US managed to capture one Japanese sailor. However, a good number of Japanese also perished in the process. They include nine sailors and fifty-five airmen.

Reasons why Japan attacked the US

In the late 1930s, Japan and China were embroiled in a serious conflict. The conflict was a result of the Japanese invasion into the Northern part of China. This highly influenced their relations with the United States. The US vehemently opposed the invasions of Chinese territories by Japan, partly because the US was a good friend and a big trading partner of China. Notably, the US did not have any interest in the raging conflict with Japan; it was purely invited into it by the prevailing circumstance (Der-Vat 13-15).

At this point, the US did not even want to support China as it had international problems which had threatened to split the country into two factions: communists and nationalists. Because of this, the US did little to support China but formalized the aid to China. The US supplied China with everything it needed and restricted its supplies to Japan. The US restricted its supplies to Japan, not as a result of the impending conflict with China, but because Japan had breached its trade agreement (Der-Vat 34-37). This did not affect the relationship between the two countries immediately. The US government, however, used it as a platform to limit supplies to Japan as a way of forcing Japan to stop attacks in China.

On the other hand, Japan responded with several measures that were not pleasant to both China and the United States (Der-Vat 4-8). The country sought greater security by declaring its supremacy in the greater East Asia region. This followed by the announcement to drive out all people in Asia that were supporting the West. This followed by a declaration that Japan would not pull out of Chinese territories. Mainly, this process was only being used by Japan to enhance its economic status to reduce its over-dependence on Western supplies.

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Furthermore, Japan entered into a series of agreements with other western powers thereby becoming a real threat to the United States (Iriye 2-7). The tripartite agreement which involved Italy and Germany was just one such pact. It connected the existing disagreements in Asia and Europe. China was, thus, the only country in Asia at that time was capable of helping the United States contain the spread of fascism.

However, it was the Neutrality agreement with USSR that worsened the situation (Iriye 6-8). This pact communicated to the international community that nothing would stop Japan from advancing into Southeast Asia. The US had vast interests in the region and did not want to lose any. In other words, if it was attacked, it would affect the trading potential of China with the United States.

Another agreement with France paved the way for Japan to start its incursion into China and Southeast Asia (Martin 3-7). The US responded by restricting dealings with Japan. Talks with Japan stopped, exports to Japan stopped and its assets were frozen. Although negations restarted after some time, they did not achieve anything as most people in the US were highly supporting China and not Japan. In fact, this issue made it hard for the US to convince Japan to pull out of Chinese territories (Martin 10-12). Japan, at this time, faced serious problems resulting from the restrictions set by the US. It was unable to sustain its army, was not able to retreat and so, the best option was for it to act fast.

At this point, the US becomes convinced that Japan was no longer strong enough to attack its territory and so, it still thought the best option would be to get back to the negotiating table. It was wrong; this was the perfect time for Japan to launch attacks at Pearl Harbor (Martin 23-24). It can, therefore, be stated that, since Japan was having issues with some countries in South East Asia where the US had vast interests, the attack at the US naval base in Hawaii was a way of preventing the United States from interfering with its mission.


From the above account, it is clear that Japan was not at war with the United States but China. In fact, both countries relied on the US for military supplies. However, since Japan wanted to attack China, there was no way it would fail to provoke the West as the region had lots of US interests. With this, the United States did not sanction the Japanese idea. In fact, it responded with several restrictions which made Japan unable to sustain its military. Eventually, Japan did not have an option but to launch attacks at Pearl Harbor as a way of telling the US to stop interfering with its affairs. The attack, as it has been seen in the discussion, was catastrophic. War equipment owned by the US was destroyed, civilians were killed and a number of servicemen at that naval base were also killed.

Works Cited

Der-Vat, Dan. Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy. New York, NY: Madison Press Books, 2010. Print.

Iriye, Akira. Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War. New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. Print.

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Lord, Walter. Day of Infamy, 60th Anniversary: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2001. Print.

Martin, Bernd. Japan and Germany in the Modern World. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2006. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, May 5). Pearl Harbor Attack, Its Reasons and Casualties.

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"Pearl Harbor Attack, Its Reasons and Casualties." StudyCorgi, 5 May 2021,

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StudyCorgi. "Pearl Harbor Attack, Its Reasons and Casualties." May 5, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Pearl Harbor Attack, Its Reasons and Casualties." May 5, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Pearl Harbor Attack, Its Reasons and Casualties'. 5 May.

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