On this day in history, December 7th, 1941, The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service made a surprise attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States’ entry into World War II.
Here are 5 facts about the events that occurred at Pearl Harbor: Japan wanted to stop the U.S. Pacific fleet from thwarting their attacks on the U.S., U.K, and the Netherlands.
- The Great Depression: The great depression of 1929 left the world economy in shambles. As a result, Japan decided to act aggressively and invade China in a fight to save their economy. In 1931, the Japanese invaded Manchuria and withdrew from the league of nations.
- Marco Polo Bridge Incident: By 1937, The Chinese were upset about the Japanese invasion of their land. Tensions between the two Pacific countries were rising. On the night of July 7, 1937, Japanese forces demanded entry to the town of Wanping in order to search for one of their soldiers. The Chinese garrison refused the Japanese entry; a shot was heard, and the two sides began firing. Neither side made concessions. Tensions continued to grow. This would mark the start of the Sino-Japanese War and eventually the Pacific entanglement in World War II.
- Nanjing Massacre & American sanctions: Japanese troops committed mass murder and mass rape against civilians of Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China. The terror began on December 13, 1937 and persisted for six weeks. As a result of the Japanese invasions the United States passed sanctions against them. The U.S. implemented trade embargoes on aircraft exports, oil and scrap metal, among other key goods. This didn’t intimidate Japan. Instead, they got tougher and decided to take action against the U.S.
- Tripartite Pact Also known as the Berlin Pact: On September 27, 1940 Germany, Japan, and Italy signed the Tripartite pact. The three countries were all allies against the United States.
- December 7, 1941: The Japanese didn’t want the U.S. interfering with its plans in Southeast Asia. They planned an attack which would shut down the U.S. Pacific fleet. Japan’s surprise attack on pearl harbor was a declaration of war against America. Japanese bombs struck eight battleships. Four sank, the others were also destroyed or damaged. Over 2,400 sailors were killed. The U.S. became entangled in World War II on December 8, 1941.