Today, 7th December 2010 marks the 69th annivesary of the Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the American Naval base in Hawaii. The attack woke up a reluctant sleeping giant, the USA, which then declared war on Japan and its allies Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. A war which ended by the dropping of an atomic bomb each on Hisroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941
Nationalistic and militaristic fervor in Imperial Japan and a strong belief in Japan's destiny and divine right to rule all of Southeast Asia brought Japan and the United States into increasing diplomatic confrontation throughout the 1930s.
Compounding the matter was a bloody undeclared war the Japanese were waging in China and the weakening of European control in Asian colonies as a result of the Second World War. The signing of the Tripartite Pact in September 1940, which allied Japan with Germany and Italy, aggravated tensions between the United States and Japan as the latter nation joined the Axis Powers. When Japan seized a major portion of Southeast Asia under agreement with Vichy France, the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt was moved to action.
Already outraged by Japanese aggression in China, the Roosevelt administration introduced economic sanctions to make its point clear: The United States would not facilitate Japan's expansion into the Pacific, just as it opposed German expansion in Europe. An American embargo cut off shipments of scrap steel, raw materials, oil and high-octane gasoline, while freezing Japanese financial assets in the United States. The Japanese, having only a six-month supply of strategic fuel available for its armed forces, felt the only choice was to initiate the conquest of Southeast Asia, which meant inevitable war with America, Britain, and the Netherlands.
Japan had seen the United States expand its naval authority in the Pacific in the late 1930s. The bolstering of defenses in the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Midway and Wake Island, as well as stationing the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, made America the first priority for a Japanese attack.
Read the rest of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour here, enthralling history.
I must give it to the Japanese, because even though they lost the war, the Japanese attack on the USA also sparked mass nationalism in Asian countries colonised by the British, Dutch, French and American colonial power hastening the independence of first India, Pakistan then Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines etc. followed much later by Vietnam.