The US declared war on Japan eighty-two years ago when the Japanese attacked an American military station in Hawaii, destroying the Pacific Fleet.The 82nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbour attack, in which the Japanese military launched an unexpected attack on a naval facility in Hawaii, will be observed in the United States on Thursday, December 7.
The attack, which happened on December 7, 1941, changed the course of World War Two. The US military had miscalculated the threat posed by Japan, an Axis power along with Germany, as it had grown more fixated on the ongoing fighting in Europe.
2,390 Americans lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbour, and the next day the US declared war on Japan.
What transpired prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour?
Even though the attack on Pearl Harbour came as a surprise, there had been growing tensions between the two countries over the preceding decades, and they saw each other as competitors. Conflicts over dominance in eastern Asia and their divergent perspectives on Chinese growth caused relations to deteriorate.
The United States imposed a number of trade embargoes and economic penalties against Japan in the late 1930s. It was not to be as the US had thought that Japan would be forced to restrain its expansionist agenda due to the strict limitations.
Hawaii, the island where Pearl Harbour is located, is about 2,000 miles from the United States mainland and 4,000 miles from Japan. It is located in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. Despite the island’s relative isolation, it was thought too bold to launch an attack on a military target located 4,000 miles away.
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor’s US fleet.
Hundreds of aircraft were parked on surrounding airfields as the whole US Pacific Fleet was positioned around Ford Island in Pearl Harbour at the time of the attack. The base was inadequately protected due to the lack of anticipated threat, making it an attractive target for Japan.
The Japanese leadership reasoned that by eliminating the Pacific Fleet, they would have the breathing room to deploy their own forces throughout the South Pacific and reclaim the region. Thus, on December 7, following months of planning and preparation, the attack was carried out.
Around eight in the morning local time, Japanese planes began to circle over Pearl Harbour, dropping bombs on the defenceless American fleet. The USS Arizona battleship was struck by a massive 1,800-pound bomb, which caused the ship to explode and sink, killing over a thousand soldiers.
With major damage to the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS California, USS West Virginia, USS Utah, USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee, and USS Nevada, the Japanese had completely destroyed the US fleet in less than two hours of attack.