Roosevelt and the attack on Pearl Harbor
The Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942. Americans were shocked to learn of the attack as most thought Germany was first. T. Roosevelt’s policies as president of the United States in the years leading up to 1941 are a major factor behind this Japanese attack. The attack on Japan was a result of Roosevelt’s policy in the years prior to 1941, which helped Britain fight Germany in Europe. The attack was designed to cripple the U.S. Navy and help Japan take over the Pacific.
In November of 1938, Roosevelt urged the production and manufacture of 10,000 military planes by the year 1940. He also urged the production to continue at 10,000 planes per year. This was done so that Hitler would know we were serious and capable of fighting back if need be. In July of 1939, Roosevelt gave a military directive that all agencies responsible for the defense and security of the United States must report directly to him. Japan saw the same thing and kept this in mind. Many other policies led to Japan’s invasion. In 1939, Roosevelt announced that the United States would remain neutral during the war just two days after France & England declared war against Germany. Roosevelt, despite this, did all he could for England/France to fight Nazis. The country, as a collective, supported Roosevelt’s request to lift the ban on selling weapons to warring nations. Congress passed a law that allowed us to sell weapons only to countries at war who paid in cash and transported their weapons themselves. Roosevelt shifted his support to the Allies and did all he could for them in the years following. It was this that made Japan furious and sparked the Pearl Harbor attack.
Japan invaded China to get resources but it wasn’t only for China. By 1941, they had a majority of China’s coastlines under their control and wanted to expand. To continue their campaign, they depended on U.S. materials, such as oil, steel and iron. Japan could not afford for the United States to stop supplying 80 percent (or more) of its oil. The Export Control Act of 1940 gave the President the authority to limit the sale to other countries of strategic materials, (materials needed to fight wars). This caused tensions between Japan, the U.S. and Japan because the U.S. wanted Japan to leave China while Japan wanted the war to continue. Roosevelt blocked the supply of iron and airplane fuel to Japan, which angered them. They then formed an alliance with Germany to create the Axis Powers. The tension between Japan and the United States was caused by Japan’s resource needs. The United States had a strategic interest in not allowing Japan to grow into a large empire.
Winston Churchill demanded that America return its old destroyers and unused ones in spring 1940. Germany had destroyed many of them. In the spring of 1940, Winston Churchill asked America for its old and unused destroyers because Germany had destroyed? These ships were needed to protect their cargo ships against German submarines, and to stop a Naval invasion attempt of Britain. The Neutrality Act prevented Roosevelt from selling the destroyers directly to Britain, as the act required payment in cash and Britain’s money had been spent. Roosevelt asked Britain for permission to build America’s military bases on Newfoundland and Bermuda and other Caribbean islands. In return, Britain received 50 outdated American destroyers. Neutrality Act does not apply because no money was transferred between the countries.
Roosevelt ran for his third term because Japan had begun to notice Roosevelt’s efforts in support of the Allies. It was a surprise because previous presidents had ceased to serve after the second term. In the middle of a war, Roosevelt decided to run for president again. Roosevelt believed that America should go further in the conflict and aid the fight to bring about democracy. Roosevelt’s election victory was by far the largest margin in history, and this gave Japan further reasons to dislike America.
Britain had already suffered a severe economic setback. The war had consumed all available funds. It was in America’s best strategic interests to remain diplomatic. They needed Britain to stay in the conflict so that they wouldn’t be forced to. Roosevelt said that if we wanted to stay out, we needed to keep Britain involved in the war. Otherwise, they would fall, and Italy, Germany, and Japan would continue to dominate the world. Roosevelt found another loophole to get around the Neutrality Act’s cash requirement. The act allowed the U.S. to lend or rent weapons to countries that were vital for their own defense. Britain fell under this category as without it, they would need to go into the war. The U.S. supplied weapons to Britain on the condition that it would one day pay for them or return them. By the end WWII, the U.S. loaned out supplies worth 40 billions of dollars. The Soviet Union and China were also included in this policy. To defend themselves and force Japan into concentrating their efforts in China, they sent weapons to China. Roosevelt believed that Japan could now reach Singapore and British shipping routes because they controlled so many lands. Roosevelt then froze Japan’s assets, including its iron and aircraft fuel. The Japanese Empire was dealt a major blow because they depended heavily on U.S. oil.
Douglas MacArthur was sent to the Pacific by Roosevelt in order to strengthen American defenses. He told Japan to leave China and make peace in order for the Embargo to be lifted. After Japan’s oil shortage, the British began to plan an attack on oil-rich colonies that were located in Southeast Asia. The Japanese also decided to attack Pearl Harbor and conquer the entire Philippines. In order to avoid the United States getting involved, they decided to cripple Pearl Harbor’s pacific Navy. Japan’s apparent negotiations with America were a ruse to hide their true intentions. It was becoming militaristic as they hoped to maintain dominance.
German submarines began patrolling the Atlantic after the United States sided with the Allies. They attacked and sank many cargo ships, which were bringing supplies to Europe. Roosevelt declared all of the western Atlantic Ocean to be part of the Western Hemisphere. It was then that the U.S. began a patrol of the western Atlantic to reveal to British destroyers and cargo ships the location and type of German submarines. In the fall of 1941, Germany was in a standoff with the United States. Roosevelt’s “shoot at sight” policy was adopted, which meant that any German submarines within the area would be attacked. Many German U Boats attacked american ships and sank the American Destroyed Greer. Germany continued to target other ships including the U.S.S. Greer. Reuben James. The ship that sank killed 115 Americans. The tension between America and Germany was increasing despite the fact that neither side declared war.
Japan began sending warships in Hawaii on November 26th 1941. This was done to give the appearance that American aircraft/ships would be coming from the North, so they wouldn’t suspect them of being Japanese. A limited amount of technology made it impossible to distinguish between the Japanese and Americans on radars. In the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, Americans decoded Japanese communication that informed them of their preparations for war. Pearl Harbor was not expected to be attacked. Jerry Bruckheimer cites the statement that Hawaii wasn’t a feasible target because of its distance.
The American warship Ward, on December 7th 1941 at 645 A.M. sank near Pearl Harbor’s entrance a japanese sub. A radar of the army detected a cloud approaching from north between 7:02 A.M. and 7:39 A.M. They mistook it for a B-17 flight coming from California. The first wave of Japanese aircraft hit at 7:49AM. The 183 aircraft included 40 torpedo-bombers, 49 high-altitude bombers and many “zero fighters”. First, the first wave of planes targeted Battleship Row as well as nearby airfields. A second attack wave of 167 airplanes was launched at 855 A.M. Airfields and ships were targeted. The Japanese regret that this wave did not target oil tanks or most ship repair facilities. The surprise attack caused damage or sinking to 21 ships from the United States fleet based in Pearl Harbor. Eight battleships and six other vessels are included in this list. 188 aircraft were destroyed and 2403 American soldiers died in the attacks. Further 1178 people were also injured. Pearl Harbor’s reaction was unprepared and shocked. The Japanese did not just target the ships, but also the airbases. This made it difficult for the aircraft to counter-attack.
Roosevelt then said the following: “Yesterday was December 7, 1942 – a day which will forever be infamy […]. He created a sense of pride among Americans, and ensured the victory. Because of our pride, we did not want Japan to be able to attack us. And we also had a reason to help the Nazis conquer Europe. Pearl Harbor’s attacks were caused by Roosevelt’s diplomatic effort to help allies militaristic stand, Japans’ need for materials and Americas’ refusal to provide them, Japanese nationalist fervor and militaristic policies. Pearl Harbor’s attack was caused by several interconnected events. These events would never have happened if Roosevelt had not taken action or if Japan hadn’t made the decisions they did. This would have changed the course of history for our country as well as the entire world.