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Pearl harbour attack

Topics Covered: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

Pearl harbour attack

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: All about WW2 and pearl harbour attack.

Context: President Donald Trump has said the coronavirus outbreak has hit the US harder than the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II or the 9/11 terror attacks, pointing the finger at China.

Why? Since emerging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the coronavirus has infected 1.2 million Americans and killed more than 73,000.

What happened in Pearl Harbour?

The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour was among the most significant moments of the War — it signalled the official entry of the US into the hostilities, which eventually led to the dropping of nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

What led up to the attack on Pearl Harbour?

  1. Before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, relations between the US and Japan were already worsening.
  2. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and, in 1937, it invaded China, sending alarm bells ringing in the US and other Western powers about Japan’s manifest expansionist agenda.
  3. Between December 1937 and January 1938, an episode which is referred to as the “Nanking Massacre” or the “Rape of Nanking”, occurred — Japanese soldiers killed and raped Chinese civilians and combatants.
  4. Japanese historians estimate that anywhere between tens of thousands and 200,000 Chinese were killed.
  5. The US was against Japan’s aggression in China, and imposed economic sanctions and trade embargoes after its invasion. Japan was reliant on imports for oil and other natural resources — this was one of the reasons why it invaded China, and later French Indo-China (present day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). The intention was to take control of the major Chinese ports to have access to resources such as iron, rubber, tin, and most importantly, oil.
  6. In July 1941, the US ceased exporting oil to Japan. Negotiations between the two countries ended with the “Hull Note”, the final proposal delivered to Japan by the US. Essentially, the US wanted Japan to withdraw from China without any conditions.
  7. Ultimately, the negotiations did not lead to any concrete results, following which Japan set its task for Pearl Harbour in the last week of November, 1941. Japan considered the attack to be a preventive measure against the US interfering with Japan’s plans to carry out military operations in some parts of Southeast Asia.

What happened at Pearl Harbour?

About 7.55 am on December 7, 1941, about 180 aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The bombing killed over 2,300 Americans, and destroyed the battleships USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma. Roughly 160 aircraft were destroyed, and 150 were damaged.


But the Pearl Harbor attack had failed in its objective to completely destroy the Pacific Fleet. The Japanese bombers missed oil tanks, ammunition sites and repair facilities, and not a single U.S. aircraft carrier was present during the attack. In June 1942, this failure came to haunt the Japanese, as U.S. forces scored a major victory in the Battle of Midway, decisively turning the tide of war in the Pacific.


Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Countries involved in WW2.
  2. Important events and battles during WW2.
  3. Causes and outcomes of the war.
  4. What is the Battle of Midway?
  5. What led to attacks pearl harbour? Outcomes?

Mains Link:

Discuss the reasons for attack on pearl harbour and its outcomes.

Sources: the Hindu.