On 7th December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor
After the WW1(1914 – 1918) outbreak when German forces started moving into China, Japan helped Britain drive Germans out and gained a key victory.
But Japanese always felt that they were considered second-rate power by the West despite having the first-rate military. Later Japan’s economy took a major hit during 1929 America’s Great depression.
Hideki Tojo, a Japanese military leader, wanted to expand its influence to make it a powerful country. At that time, the USA, France, and Britain had their colonies in Asia that were rich in natural resources. The USA was always worried that Japan should not take advantage of what was happening in Europe ( during WW2 ) to expand by capturing colonies of defeated European powers.
But this exactly happened. Japan signed a pact with Germany and Italy to support each other. Japan started occupying colonies of France ( Japan invaded French Vietnam) in Asia as France was now under Germany’s control.
Churchill kept urging the Americans to join the war against the Axis powers (Germany and Italy), but the USA, which was miles away and separated by an ocean, did not feel that war in Europe could reach its borders.
But the USA sent Japan a warning by imposing sanctions and sending its Naval fleet to keep it permanently based at Pearl Harbor (in Hawaii) in the Pacific. The aim was to stop Japan’s territorial expansions.
For Japan, the war was inevitable. To crush the spirit of the USA, on 7th December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The operation itself was difficult for Japan to go into the Pacific to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor. To keep the surprise element intact, it was also necessary to keep everything a secret.
Though the USA knew that Japan was gearing up for the war but had no inclination about the attack on Pearl Harbour. In two hours Japanese attack was over. Though Japan succeeded and thought it could now proceed with its territorial expansion in the south Pacific, Churchill knew this would bring the USA into the war.
Churchill claimed that he went to bed that night, saying to himself in his head, “So we have won after all.” This is exactly what happened as the USA now declared war on Japan and other axis powers.
For the complete article on WW2 – click here.
Source: National Geographic