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Awakening A Sleeping Giant

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Awakening the Sleeping Giant

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant" (Pierce 43). That is just what the Japanese did- awaken a "sleeping giant." The United States had tried for a long time to stay out of World War II. Finally, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States had no choice but to enter the war. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, affected the United States greatly and also changed the course of events that followed in America's history.

Admiral Yamamoto said, "A brilliant man will find a way not to fight a war" (23). Most countries do not attack another country without a valid reason. The Japanese reason for the attack was to dominate all of Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands, China, and Australia (Remembering Pearl Harbor 2). In the 1880s and the 1890s, Japan began to spend more money investing in a stronger army and nation (Pierce 10). Although Japan was growing stronger, in 1898 the United States became a very strong power in the Pacific Ocean after the Spanish-American War (10-11). Japanese were eager to spread their empire southward towards China and all along the coast. However, the United States wanted Japan to withdraw forces from China in order to prevent any further war. In order to do so, the United States stopped selling scrap iron, premium steel, and aviation materials to Japan; doing so would hopefully force Japan to withdraw their forces from China. In response to the United States restrictions, Japan Germany, and Italy all signed the Tripartite Pact in September 1940. "The Tripartite Pact declared that the United States was a mutual enemy to Italy, Germany, and Japan" (Davis 24). In July 1941, President Roosevelt announced that the United States was freezing Japanese

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assets. He said that Japan could still trade with the United States, but all trade must be approved by the government. Many people thought that trade was to be totally cut off from Japan (30). However, many people feared that this would cause a war with Japan because Japan depended on the United States for many resources. "80% of Japan's oil came from the United States and this posed a huge dilemma. Tojo Hideki believed Japan must go to war to maintain its empire" (32). During their expansion, the Japanese were in dire need of the oil of the East, Southeast Asia and all over the Pacific. The United States, having its fleet at Pearl Harbor Indies, was a huge obstacle in Japan's plan to rule the Pacific (The Attack on Pearl Harbor 2). The attack on Pearl Harbor was an attempt to rid the threat from the American navy in the Pacific Ocean. The American forces believed an attack on the oil rich area, and only eighteen months before, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had moved much of the US fleet to detour Japanese aggression. To all of America's surprise, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (3).

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor was extremely difficult, the task of planning the attack was given to Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku. He knew of the United States potential strength because he had studied and lived in the United States for some time. Japan faced many different challenges in attacking Pearl Harbor which was why the attack had to be planned out carefully (3). By late November Japan had assembled its naval and air forces for the attack. Admiral Nagumo Chuichi would lead the fleet. The force included more than thirty ships. These thirty ships included six aircraft carriers, two battleships, eight oil tankers, and the rest were cruisers and destroyers. The force also included more than 400 airplanes and more than twenty submarines (Pierce 28). On November 26, 1941, the

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Japanese set out from Japan. In order to avoid detection, the entire fleet traveled in radio silence. Along the way they only communicated to one another by the use of signal flags and lights. Finally, "by December 6, Nagumo's fleet was located 230 miles north of Oahu," (28) the perfect position to attack the naval fleet at Pearl Harbor. Commander Fuchida Mitsuo was assigned to lead the first group of warplanes over Pearl Harbor. That beautiful Sunday morning on December 7, 1941, more than nintey warships in the United States Pacific Fleet were in Pearl Harbor. The major battle ships that were there included the Arizona, California, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. All of these battleships, except for the Pennsylvania, were arranged along the east side of Ford Island. This arrangement of battleships was known as "Battleship Row" (30). There were some clues that an attack on Pearl Harbor was going to occur. At 3:57 A.M. an officer aboard the minesweeper Condor reported a suspicious sight near the harbor's entrance. The sighting was reported to the destroyer Ward; however, use of sonar scanned the area but found nothing. Shortly after, the Ward spotted a submarine and fired at it sinking it. The Navy never reported the sinking to the army (The Attack on Pearl Harbor 3). At 7:00 A.M., army radar operators on Oahu noticed several aircraft heading to the island, but they were disregarded as U.S. B-17 Flying Fortress bombers coming in. The attack had begun without the United States knowing what was coming (3).

Early in the morning hours, the Japanese fleet cruised to within 200 miles of Hawaii (Remembering Pearl Harbor 2). At 6:10 A.M. the Japanese aircraft carriers launched the first of two waves of attacks (The Attack on Pearl Harbor1). Finally, at 7:40

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A.M., Fuchida fired a flare from his cockpit for pilots to fall into attack formation (4). The Japanese planes came in flying so low that some sailors saw a Japanese pilot wave to them from the cockpit. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" was yelled over the radio as an indication that the attack on Pearl Harbor had been a complete surprise (Pierce 32). At approximately 7:55 A.M. Japanese bombers began to strike the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Torpedoes hit the



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