Japan wanted to get the oil and rubber from the tropical islands. But America didn't want Japan to control the tropical islands because that's where America got their oil and rubber too. So Japan thought that if they conquered the fleet base in Pearl Harbor, America couldn't stop them from getting the products America needed.
Japan planned a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor so Japan could control the tropical islands. Japan brought over about 4 aircraft carriers and about 100 other ships. When Japan attacked, America had 86 ships at Pearl Harbor. Nineteen were sunk or severely damaged. All the other ships were partly damaged. Japan destroyed 80 Navy planes and 97 Army planes. The number of people killed in the Marines and Navy was 2,111. 960 people were missing, and 876 people were wounded. The number of people killed in the Army was 226. 396 people were wounded. 49 workers were dead, and 83 workers were wounded. The Japanese lost 29 planes.
It was a horrible, horrible thing that happened to America, but a great success for the Japanese.
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Source: Personal interview with Gerald Greene
January 4, 2002