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Pearl Harbor- research report- MB

Page history last edited by bergwood390 10 years, 9 months ago


By: Mikayla

5/14/13   3rd hour


     Many people know a lot about World War II.  What they may not know, however,  is how the United States got involved in the fatal fight.  The U.S. tried to avoid war for as long as possible yet, even when they weren’t in battle America managed to gain enemies that were a part of the war already by refusing to trade with certain countries.  One of these was Japan.  Japan mercilessly attacked the United States causing them to join the war and also arousing unfair accusations towards Japanese-Americans.  Japan’s reaction to America’s embargo on trade began a chain of events starting with Pearl Harbor that ultimately changed the outcome of World War II.

     The root of the attack was the beginning of World War II.  In September 1939, the Second World War began between France and Great Britain against Germany.  Japan and America were not yet on either side.  But, soon after the start of the war, Japan began working for Nazi Germany and invaded French Indochina.  The U.S. cut off the supplies that they had been sending to Japan.  This aggravated Japan greatly.  A last point is there were many times when people believed the U.S. had the opportunity to join the war.  One time when America gave up their chance was when Germany attacked the Soviet Union.  Many Americans believed this was the perfect time for America to join the war while Germany was focused on the Soviets.  Although this was the opinion of many Americans, President Roosevelt did not believe that America was ready for war in 1941, so the U.S. was still neutral at this point of World War II.

     Though the attack on Pearl Harbor seemed very sudden, today we know that the planning for this strike was lengthy.  Once Japan was on the Axis side of the war, they especially targeted the United States; not only for the trade embargo but now they were actually considered enemies.  Starting in January of 1941, the Ambassador of Tokyo sent information to America telling them that Japan was planning an attack.  This was the start of a series messages from Japan called “the bomb plot.”  At this point in time the United States should have automatically moved their attention to Japan but this didn’t happen.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was not spur of the moment.  The idea had been in process for a long time before it was carried out.

     All of these events slowly lead up to the morning of December 7, 1941.  It was a huge risk on Japan’s part to attack Pearl Harbor, which was considered one of the best United States naval bases located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  This Japanese attack caused the death of 2,400 Americans and left 1,178 injured.  During this horrific event fewer than 100 Japanese people died.  Americans were expecting the strike from the Japanese to go somewhere around the Gulf of Siam and the China Sea.  Making this choice to attack the United States base instead may have been a risk, but it did what Japan wanted it to.  It completely took America off guard.  It also gave Japan the time and space that it was aiming for.  But, in the long run it was actually better for the U.S.  It gave the navy a chance to regroup and rebuild some of its naval fleet, which is something that needed to be done anyway.   Not only did Japan give America the chance to rebuild but it gave the people the push they needed to join the war.  Japan tried to crush American spirits but instead they were even more driven with anger.  Bruce Robinson, writer of Pearl Harbor BBC article, said, “Operationally brilliant, the attack was strategically disastrous.”  How right he was, Japan gave the U.S. the drive it needed to do something about what was happening outside of America.  The attack gave Roosevelt no choice but to declare war on Japan.

     America was in complete shock after the assault.  Many Americans jumped to assumptions that Japanese- Americans were spies from Japan. Several off these people were arrested.  Not only were the people arrested but starting on February 19,1942 over 120,000 Japanese- Americans were put in internment camps.  A lot of these people were American citizens.  Many of these citizens were actually children.  Families were broken apart; some members arrested the others dispersed to different camps.  Life in these camps had horrible conditions.  The people dealt with hard labor in extreme heat.  All people in the camps over the age of 17 were expected to take a loyalty test to make sure they were loyal to the United States.  American ignorance in this instance caused people to die, families to be torn apart, and trust in country to waver extraordinarily.

     The U.S. in the end changed how World War II concluded.  The U.S. was a very valuable resource to have in this war. Not only because of army success in the past or the fact that the United States is a powerhouse.  Also America had nuclear weapons in their possession.  Two atomic bombs were dropped, one bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and the other on Nagasaki, Japan.  When the bomb hit Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 80,000 Japanese people died instantly.  In Nagasaki, about 40,000 people died instantly.  Around 100,000 more people died later on of radiation sickness.  A lot of the people exposed to the nuclear radiation got leukemia which is a type of blood cancer.  As far as destruction goes, 60% of Hiroshima was simply gone; it was completely wiped out.  Eighty percent of the buildings in the area were totally demolished.  Of the left over buildings that hadn’t been entirely destroyed (20%), almost all of them were badly damaged.  These American attacks on Japan ended World War II.  In the end, the Allies saw victory because of United States participation in the war.  After the second bombing (this occurred in Nagasaki) Emperor Hirohito of Japan had no choice but to end the fighting.  America had taken away all other alternatives for Hirohito.  The war was over.

     Pearl Harbor had a powerful effect on the American people and still does today.  It signifies a point in our history when we were honestly clueless, when we weren't in control.  In this way, it is looked at as one of the most negative moments in American history.  It was an instance where the U.S.A., this powerful country was weak and that is what Japan wanted.  Instead of letting our spirits be crushed America pulled through.  It took the United States a while but when they eventually did join the war they made it a downhill battle for the Allies and victory not just a hope but a possibility.  Most people look at Pearl Harbor as one of the most horrific occurrences that America has known.  I agree with these people on account of the many deaths and the udder shock from all citizens.  I also think however, that the events of Pearl Harbor gave America the strength not only to fight in World War II, but a certain strength that has lasted us until this day. 



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Barr, Gary E. Witness to History: Pearl Harbor. Chicago, Illinois: Heinemann Library, 2004.

“BBC.” Pearl Harbor a Rude Awakening. 2011. Robinson, Bruce. 7 May 2013 <www.bbc.co.uk>

Goldston, Robert. Pearl Harbor! December 7, 1941. New York: Aworld Focus Book, 1972.

      “History.” World War 2 ATOMIC BOMB August 1945. 8 May 2013. <www.history.co.uk>

“History on the Net.” World War Two-Japanese Internment Camps in the U.S.A. 2013. 7 May 7, 2013 <www.historyonthenet.com> Happened to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor? 2009. May 7 2013 <jearmohistory.weebly.com>

McGowen, Tom. The Attack on Pearl Harbor

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Sulzberger, C.L. The American Heritage Picture History of World War II. New York: American Heritage/Bonanza books, 1966.




Comments (1)

AKabodian said

at 5:00 pm on Jun 7, 2013

Just a very well written essay, Mikayla. You seemed to understand the topic very well and communicated your thoughts clearly.

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