The success of Germany in Europe gave the Japanese an excellent opportunity to conquer the European colonies in Southeast Asia. The colonies were rich in resources that would maintain Japans war effort, so the Japanese quickly began to invade. In response, the United States severed all trade with Japan and threatened to continue the embargo as long as Japan was hostile toward allied territories. Because Japan received most of its oil and iron from the U.S., this embargo angered Japanese officials. Japan tried to negotiate a deal with the U.S. that would allow Japan to continue to trade with the U.S., but such a compromise was never reached. Rather than back down, Japan decided to attack the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The United States intercepted a message intended to tell Japanese diplomats of the attack, but it was not specific as to a time or place. Anticipating an attack on U.S. installments in the Philippines, the government did not believe Pearl Harbor was in danger. Experts agreed that Pearl Harbor was too well-guarded and Japan was too far from Hawaii to pose any threat to the Fleet. They were wrong.
On December 7, 1941, at 7:53 a.m., the first wave of about 200 Japanese aircraft began to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor. They targeted the U.S. airfields and battleships. The second wave arrived a short time later, targeting remaining ships and shipyard facilities. The United States lost 188 aircraft, three destroyers, three light cruisers, three smaller ships, and five battleships with eight more damaged. The largest ship destroyed was the U.S.S. Arizona, which was carrying 1.5 million gallons of oil when it sank. About 2,350 military personnel were killed, along with 68 civilians, and 1,178 were wounded. The Japanese lost only 27 aircraft and a few small submarines. Fighting was over by 9:45 a.m.
The government warning sent to Hawaii arrived two hours after the Japanese completed their attack. Radio contact with Pearl Harbor was down that day, so it was sent in the form of an unfortunately slow commercial telegraph. Unexpected delays caused Japanese diplomats to present a declaration of war against the U.S. government after the Secretary of State had already heard reports of the attack. The American public felt the Japanese made an unprovoked, sneak attack on an unsuspecting target, and soon overwhelming support was given for involvement in the war. U.S. isolationism ended when both the United States and Great Britain immediately declared war on Japan. Because of many entangling treaties established after WWI, Great Britain, France, the U.S. and other nations, collectively known as the Allies, were at war with Japan, Germany and Italy, which were known as the Axis Powers. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the turning point in World War II, bringing the United States into the war.
Sites for further Information
"Pearl Harbor Remembered"
"A History of Pearl Harbor"
http://www.hawaiiguide.com/history.htm Note: Has stats about the death/wounded report of the attack
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