Skip to comments.Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941: Major victory for Japan
Posted on 12/08/2013 3:25:13 AM PST by Berlin_Freeper
The sinister surprise attack against the naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Military is recognized by historians as one of the most successful sneak attacks in military history.
While many Americans initially thought the Empire of Japan intended to attack the United States mainland Californians along the coastal areas felt especially vulnerable the real targets were in Southeast Asia: Hong Kong, Siam, Malaya, Thailand, and the Philippines, as the first of many.
The attack upon the naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, shocked America and the world. While Americans were still reeling, Japanese troops were already en route to their real targets specifically marked for attack, destruction, and domination.
Pearl Harbor served as a sucker punch for the Japanese Imperial Military, intended to keep the U.S. out of their business, as they seized absolute control of the small island nations of Southeastern Asia.
Over 2,400 Americans had been killed, and nearly 1,200 military personnel and civilians had been wounded.
(Excerpt) Read more at communities.washingtontimes.com ...
Did Japan really plan a surprise attack on the US?
A declaration of war, as it is referred to, was printed on the front page of Japan's newspapers in the evening edition of December 8, but not delivered to the US.
As Edmund Burke stated, The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.
Amen and amen.
I still think that Roosevelt wanted a provocation to draw us into the war. He knew that our trade actions against the Japanese would cause a war. If he didn’t know that, he was a fool.
God bless all those wounded and killed that day.
A solid read, along with the linked article on the fixing of blame for Pearl Harbor that went on for many years. Also, as usual, the comments following the article were interesting.
Sneak attack, my butt! The codes were broken and FDR knew as much of the attack plan as the Japanese did. He opened Pearl up like a flower for them.
If the Japanese could not be troubled to ensure the prompt delivery of a document that in any case was not a declaration of war (no mention of hostilities) and fell short of being a legal technicality, for all intents and purposes it was intended as a surprise attack.
A side issue for sure, but Siam and Thailand are the same country.
Japanese declaration of war
See also: Japanese declaration of war on the United States and the British Empire
The attack took place before any formal declaration of war was made by Japan, but this was not Admiral Yamamoto’s intention. He originally stipulated that the attack should not commence until thirty minutes after Japan had informed the United States that peace negotiations were at an end. The Japanese tried to uphold the 1907 Hague Convention III The Opening of Hostilities while still achieving surprise, but the attack began before the notice could be delivered. Tokyo transmitted the 5,000-word notification (commonly called the “14-Part Message”) in two blocks to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, but transcribing the message took too long for the Japanese ambassador to deliver it in time. (In fact, U.S. code breakers had already deciphered and translated most of the message hours before he was scheduled to deliver it.) The final part of the “14 Part Message” is sometimes described as a declaration of war. While it neither declared war nor severed diplomatic relations, it was viewed by a number of senior U.S government and military officials as a very strong indicator that negotiations were likely to be terminated  and that war might break out at any moment. A declaration of war was printed on the front page of Japan’s newspapers in the evening edition of December 8, but not delivered to the U.S. government until the day after the attack.
For decades, conventional wisdom held that Japan attacked without any official warning of a break in relations only because of accidents and bumbling that delayed the delivery of a document hinting at war to Washington. In 1999, however, Takeo Iguchi, a professor of law and international relations at International Christian University in Tokyo, discovered documents that pointed to a vigorous debate inside the government over how, and indeed whether, to notify Washington of Japan’s intention to break off negotiations and start a war, including a December 7 entry in the war diary saying, “our deceptive diplomacy is steadily proceeding toward success.” Of this, Iguchi said, “The diary shows that the army and navy did not want to give any proper declaration of war, or indeed prior notice even of the termination of negotiations ... and they clearly prevailed.”
Facts like that are so pre-Internet. It’s the 21st century and nobody edits or fact checks in this era!
FDR had to have something big to hide his administration’s incompetence and his growing poor standing with the citizens.
Whether he had intel about the coming Jap attack or was as stupid as nobama is still hidden from us. Let’s hope that this WhiteyHut does not verbatim follow FDR’s history and start a major war just to save his own skin. But we should not be surprised.
If this happened on Dec 7, 2013 you can bet you would have Bill Clinton blaming the United States as he did when he was in europe shortly after 9/11
obama would be supplying weapons to the Japanese.
Same as he is doing with the terrorist today.
You are straying into Truther Territory, there partner. There was no clear, unambiguous signal saying “attack Pearl Harbor”. Navy intelligence had lost track of the ships in the attack force. Their Morse Code operators had been taken off and placed on islands in the South China Sea, and given dummy traffic to send, since US Huff Duff operators would recognize a particular operator by his “fist”. In retrospect, their are indicators that point to an attack, but hindsight is 20/20. If FDR had known about the attack, he could have done a better job of absorbing it, and would have been in a position to inflict great damage on the Japanese early in the War.
I always felt that the Pearl Harbor attack, as serious as it was, was not daring enough. On December 8, 1941 there was more oil in Hawaii than in Japan. Had the Japanese attacked the oil storage facilities, it is likely that they would never have lost Guadalcanal, and some of the subsequent battles, and the war in the Pacific, would have been lengthened by at least a year. Or more. What if the Japanese had invaded the unprotected beaches of Hawaii a few days after Pearl Harbor, supported by aircraft carriers and naval gunfire, possibly taking the Pearl Harbor out of U.S. hands, and possibly even seizing significant oil reserves?
The real scandal was in the Philippines where MacArthur let his air force be destroyed on the ground. He sat locked in his office for hours after the Pearl Harbor attack doing nothing and ignoring his air officers who begged to be allowed to attack the Japanese air bases in Formosa (Taiwan). Eventually the Japs attacked the U.S. airfields in the Philippines and destroyed all those airplanes sitting useless on the ground.
MacArthur made some really bad decisions in his career. He topped what you referenced with his campaign in North Korea. He first slowed the pursuit of the NKPA by transferring the Marine Corps from the Seoul area to the east coast of North Korea, losing weeks of its use. Relied on inadequate port facilities to supply the USMC by doing so. Ignored the possibility of a million man PLA crossing the Yalu. Topped off by having a mountain range with no lateral roads between his forces.
Far from being naïve, that statement is enough to send chills down my spine.
Think about it...
Suddenly Syria & Iran seem like nothing more than 'field tests'.
What would have happened if the Japanese didn’t attack Pearl Harbor? Would they have taken Australia and then India? How would that have affected Britain? If Britain and her colonies had been defeated, how would that affect the War in Russia? Germany would have been totally focused on Russia and would have had lots of oil.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not a success for them. It wasn’t much of a surprise, and it failed to deliver a crippling blow to the US.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
I prefer to think about Midway.
Hypothetically, I've always thought the best course of action for the Japanese would have been, rather than attacking HI, to simply by pass the Philippines on their way to SE asian oil. Although that would have violated a cardinal rule of war making (leaving an enemy in their flank) not only was there was no great enthusiasm among Americans for getting involved in another war, we weren't big fans of the colonialists either. They might have gotten away with it without giving Roosevelt a political opportunity to involve us.
Did not the Japs attack Manila the same day? But because of the International Date Line it was considered the next day (Dec 8)?
I think that the big winner at Pearl Harbor was the Soviet Union.
I think the even bigger winner was Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Communists.
“... There was no clear, unambiguous signal saying attack Pearl Harbor. ... indicators that point to an attack, but hindsight is 20/20. If FDR had known about the attack, he could have done a better job of absorbing it, and would have been in a position to inflict great damage on the Japanese early in the War.
... What if the Japanese had invaded the unprotected beaches of Hawaii a few days after Pearl Harbor, supported by aircraft carriers and naval gunfire, possibly taking the Pearl Harbor out of U.S. hands, and possibly even seizing significant oil reserves?”
Cryptanalysis is more difficult than many casual observers can appreciate. The Allied (in reality, Polish/British/US) successes in this field came later in WWII: in 1941, none of the infrastructure nor procedures existed. Anyone who thinks - even for so long as a millisecond - that it was even possible for the US government to discover what Imperial Japan was up to, is committing the most grievous errors imaginable.
Gordon Prange (and his inimitable co-authors, whose names refuse to return to my memory at the moment) has shown conclusively that no actions the US could have taken would have influenced Imperial Japan one way or another: the decision to go to war was taken by the Japanese leadership.
Recent analyses and informed conjecture have conceded that no amount of tactical warning could have saved US forces from the mauling they endured on 7 December 1941, and the days immediately following. There simply were no command and control systems to receive alerts, assess attack strength/objectives, assign defense assets, or direct them in battle.
All speculation about “what might have happened” is of course uncertain, but it’s quite possible that had the USN Pacific Fleet sortied from Pearl Harbor in time to meet the oncoming Imperial Japanese Naval attack fleet in a full-scale open-ocean battle, the results would have been far worse for the Americans. And every vessel lost in that clash could never have been salvaged, sunk as they would have been in deep water.
What truly cooked the American goose that day was lack of air-mindedness on the part of local commanders: the US Navy was preparing to meet a naval attack, and the US Army was preparing to meet a ground attack (an invasion force, as Lonesome in MA suggested). Never the twain did meet.
And - most ruinously - blinkered thinking could not be blamed on personal flaws of local commanders. Both Walter C. Short and Husband E. Kimmel were products of their separate service traditions and corporate culture. Their approach to waging war, while admirably traditional, was outdated decades before. The late Billy Mitchell predicted so in hideous detail in the 1920s, and moreover had the bad manners to prove it.
And no one can guarantee that blunders on such a scale can never descend on us in the future, as we persist in clinging to brainlessness ... the family of Admiral Kimmel persevered in petitioning the Navy Dept to get his name cleared, and USN leadership agreed at last. Family members of William Mitchell have made several attempts to get his court-martial conviction reversed, but in inexplicable contrast, DoD has always turned them away.
You know, a really good short story (can’t recall what compilation it’s a part of) is called “Billy Mitchell’s Overt Act”, which has him remaining in the Army following his court martial and ending up as the CO of USAAF in the Hawaiian Islands leading up to Pearl Harbor ...
i think the japanese would have been wise to gamble we would not declare war if they didn’t attack american territories and just it the british and dutch areas. remember they already had indo china and thailand was pro-japanese. the american people kept saying they didn’t want to fight for colonial europe and, unlike today, the president actually had to get congress to declare war.
as for fdr and churchill knowing about the attack that’s just crap.
MacArthur was over rated. He always seem to be caught flat footed. He thought the Japanese weren’t as good as fighters as we were, and they were tough.
Same as in Korea when he thought the Chinese would never cross to help the NK.....
MacArthur was right about the Russians and loved his country.
Yet more proof of Roosevelt’s sinister conspiracy. Don’t you see?
Why was FDR happy? He believed the Nazis had to be defeated to save democratic Western Civilization. Until the invasion of Russia in Spring 1941, Britain had been holding on alone, barely. In 1941, the Germans were rolling across Russia and it would not be for another year that we would learn Russia would survive the attack. A Japanese attack on the US would finally create a consensus that the US had to enter the war and allow us to give the British full support.
Roosevelt did not need to trick the Japanese into attacking us. They had already taken the decision to seize SE Asia, which meant attacking the Philippines and the US Asiatic Fleet, Far East Air Force, and Army ground units. They had already decided on war against the US.
Thanks, Tanker, but I think we are not talking of the same points. I am not saying we shouldn’t have gone to war. I am not saying the Germans and the Nazis didn’t need to be stopped and I am certainly not saying FDR ‘tricked’ the Japanese into attacking us. My point is that circumstantial evidence shows that FDR knew Pearl was going to be hit and he knew when and to what extent, and that he let it happen and augmented the effect by delaying the Japanese diplomat’s presentation of the war declaration. While this did get us riled up like hornets, with Americans RUNNING to the enlistment offices, it killed thousands of sailors at Pearl Harbor that could have at least defended themselves with the advance warning that was withheld.
There was some intelligence that ships had been spotted moving south. Based on what was known at the time I would have guessed the Philippines would be the target.
The code breakers kept precise notes on all their work. However, the exact time the codes were broke has never been known to the public. All involved kept their mouths shut to their deaths. Maybe they just weren’t talkative people...
From "And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway Breaking the Secrets" by Layton (with Pineau and Costello), circa 1985.
Page 317: "... 'How do you know it's Akagi?' I asked. Joe explained, 'It's the same ham-fisted radio operator who uses his transmitting key as if he is kicking it with his foot'"
[See additional "fist" comments, for example, on page 174 and pages 229-230.]
As the story about IJN "radio deception" has as a major pillar that the Japanese naval radio operators from the Striking Force remained in Home Waters; the above shows that at least one remained on Akagi for the attack, transmitted, and was recognized. So much for that myth.
Also see page 547, note 19, for a bit more from a chapter of CSP-1494-A "Did the Japanese Paint Us a Picture" (The OP-20-G discrediting campaign against Rochefort and his men?)
But then, there is the tale of placing some of the Kido Butai's transmitters on destroyers which then sailed around Home Waters, ... and so on.
Of course, your mileage may vary.
A) Recall event of 22June1941.
B) Japan needed oil, and after a world-wide embargo became effective (thank you FDR and Churchill at Placentia Bay).
C) Japan always "gamed" their moves. The gaming of their move south (say NEI and oil), Pearl Harbor as a threat to their flank is seen. Hart and his "Asiatic Fleet" was not seen as a major force - largest warship is CA.
D) Japan knows, via the captured Blue Funnel streamer, from the COS papers that Britain is in no position to sustain a naval offensive in the Far East. (See Chapman's The Price of Admirality). The only worry - the Pacific Fleet, now lessened because FDR move major elements to Altantic - that convoying thing. Puzzle - how many fleet oilers remain at Pearl Harbor?
E) The US via FDR, committed to the armed support of British and Dutch terrority - unconstitutionally and not revealed until the Pearl Harbor Hearings
F) There was no treaty to defend Britain or the Dutch - nothing ratified by the US Senate.
G) Consider international law as well as the US being a declared neutral country at the time. And what that meant.
... And so on.
Timing is everything.
I wonder if he was underestimating the Japanese as many (foolish) Japanese underestimated us?
Many of the Congressional Pearl Harbor Hearings reports -multi-volumes - can be found there (note that many are tens of mega-bytes in size, but as these are PDF files they are conveniently searchable).
There is also an index into these volumes from the Greenwood Press - often helpful.
I suggest that you might begin with the Minority Report.
And no, the capacity of the IJN was not underestimated; the amount of damage at Pearl Harbor was by FDR and his War Cabinet, particularly Knox. The IJN ability to sustain losses and yet maintain a fighting spirit was greatly underestimated - a cultural thingy.
Same as to the IJA. The brutal fighting to the death at Guadalcanal and Papua New Guinea came as quite a shock. And we just passed the 70th anniversary of Tarawa where the Japanese very nearly did literally fight to the last man.
A. From Jonathan Daniels (son of former Secretary of Navy Josephus Daniels), an adminstrative assistant to FDR, regarding Pearl Harbor attack:
"The blow was heavier than he (sic FDR) had hoped it would necessarily be ... But the risks paid off; even the loss was worth the price. ..."
The Aspirin Age: 1919-1941, Isabel Leighton (editor), New York, NY, 1949, page 490.
B. On those "lost carriers" - First Air Fleet is placed at:
" ... Five days previously Captain Eddie Layton, Kimmel's radio intelligence officer, had reported he had no information on Japanese Carrier Divisions 1 and 2. They had mysteriously disappeared from Hitokappu Bay a week before and hadn't been sighted since. ..."
From But Not in Shame - The Six Months After Pearl Harbor, John Toland, Ballantine Books (division of Random House), New York, NY, 1961, page 36.
FYI - Hitokappu Wan (has several names) is located approximately at 45 degrees North, 147 degrees East. This positioning is not supportive of any movement south. Via Google Earth - that long straight thing is the runway of a Russia (built in USSR times) interceptor base.
C. A quick scan, Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels by Charles Austin Beard, from 1938, Harpers. Or, with the economic mess that the US is in, deflect that with a war ...