Japan 1941-1945 and the Acts of Belligerence Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2630 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

¶ … Japan 1941-1945 and the acts of belligerence that the nation displayed including the attack on Pearl Harbor. The writer examines the strategy behind the bombing of Hiroshima. The writer examines the fact that had Japan remained more patient she would not have had to engage in a war or wake the American sleeping giant with an unprovoked attack.


When the attacks on the World Trade Towers occurred September 11, 2001, Americans immediately began comparing it to that fateful day in 1941 when Japan launched an attack on Pearl Harbor. While the attack on the Trade Towers was horrific in nature it was founded in a small faction group trying to display their anger at America. The Pearl Harbor attacks had the backing of an entire national government.

Sixty years later historians still argue the facts about what prompted Japan to launch an attack on what was noted the most powerful country on earth. Debates rage around strategic thinking, need for raw materials, the desire for power and a simple hatred of America and all that it stood for (Price, 2001). The answer to why Pearl Harbor is that it was a combination of all those elements. Japan was angry, Japan was impatient, and Japan believed that an attack on America would give it greater power and respect in the world.


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For one to fully understand the strategic thinking behind Japan's decision to attack Pearl Harbor and the four years of belligerence that it showed following that attack, one must have an understanding of the history directly leading to that era.

It was during the years of World War II when nations were jockeying for position in the arena of raw materials, land and the export markets (Price, 2001).

At the time France, Great Britain and the Netherlands had a powerful hold over most of Asia. The United States controlled the colony known as the Philippines.

Term Paper on Japan 1941-1945 and the Acts of Belligerence Assignment

Japan, independent, dreamed of empire. Its military leaders justified conquests in Asia by considering themselves liberators; their invasions of neighboring countries were freeing the region from white racism and domination by Western powers (Price, 2001)." prominent general in the Japanese military remarked at the time that Whites had made Asians objects of oppression and the time had come to seize the power that rightfully belonged to Japan.

Ironically at the same time the general was pointing the finger at Whites and arguing that they oppressed Asians the Japanese military powers were world renowned for their mistreatment of China and Korea with its belief that all people were inferior to the Japanese. The Japanese military regime treated them with cruelty that would shock the most cold hearted of nations on a regular basis (Price, 2001).

They also believed that Japan's Emperor Hirohito was descended from the sun goddess and should be worshipped like a deity. Each day, Japanese teachers asked their classes: "What is your dearest ambition?" Each day, students would respond in unison: "To die for the Emperor (Price, 2001)!"

This created an atmosphere in which most Japanese soldiers would rather commit suicide than surrender or be defeated.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked it was placed directly on the head of the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto however, recent discovery has uncovered the fact that he got some of his strategic ideas from a book called the Pacific War that he read just before making the decision to attack the U.S.(Honan, 1991).

The attack sent a shock wave around the world as Americans scrambled to regroup. It was a day that will never be forgotten and it set the stage for a bomb dropping that would kill many people in Hiroshima as retaliation for the attack on America.

No nation has ever again attempted to attack the United States and much of that is based in the understanding of how America reacted to Pearl Harbor. Japan had grown impatient, and greedy and convinced itself that America was an evil empire that had to be destroyed, however what it did in actuality was to provide the stage for America to demonstrate to the world what will happen if a government ever again decides to flex its muscle in the direction of the U.S.


The belligerence displayed by the actions of Japan between 1941-1945 remain a mystery, but there are certain strategic elements that have become clear since its occurrence (Fallows, 1991).

For the most part, Japan believed if it attacked the United States it would place itself on equal footing with the West. In addition it believed that the attack would free it from domination from the outside world.

One of the constant issues in the debates about Pearl Harbor is the fact that it was an impossible goal. While the world was shocked at the lengths that Hitler was willing to go there is some evidence that he had a chance at dominating and taking over all of Europe with his military endeavours (Fallows, 1991). The attack on Pearl Harbor was futile before it began and therefore seemed to be a strategically planned suicide mission in the part of the Japanese government.

Five weeks before the attack a meeting was held during which time many military leaders tried to convince the Japanese government that America was so strong and powerful it would be committing national suicide to move against it, however, those who wanted to the attack to occur would turn a deaf ear and move forward.

In the years leading to the attack, Japanese leaders grew increasingly frustrated in what they believed to be a constant move to corner the nation and have it dominated by Western ideas and cultures (Fallows, 1991). In the months directly before the attack the leaders drew the conclusion that domination was inevitable of action was not taken and soon.

Part of the fear that spurned the leaders was the belief that a recent boycott led by America, England, China and Holland would expand to further cut off any ability to prosper. The boycott blocked the flow of raw materials from and too Japan. It was engineered as a punishment for Japan's earlier decision to expand military power into French Indonesia.

As the attack on America drew close Japan found itself becoming boxed in with regard to other nations including the Soviet Union and China. Japanese leaders believed the only answer was going to be a showdown that would occur between Japan and America and Japan and Europe.

Japanese leaders knew the Japanese military operations were running out of steam. Holding itself against so many large nations had worn its ability down and there was soon to come a time in which the military had no more strength.

This was realized at the same time the Japanese government made up its mind that America had become arrogant and self absorbed with little concern for what was happening in the rest of the world.

The fact was however, that the depression was in full swing and America was trying to stay out of the war and instead was concentrating on trying to stabilize the domestic situation. Japan believed this to be an arrogance as the world struggled to decide its various boundaries and economic and trade issues (Fallows, 1991).

Had Japan simply had more patience America would have been able to get a handle on its domestic issues, and then sit down with Japan and discuss the boycott and what could be done to end it without military interference.

As America continued to refuse to take part or to take sides in the war Japan grew increasingly angry with what it perceived to be a self absorbed attitude on the part of Americans and the United States government. The only time America would get involved was to take part in a boycott against Japan or other times in which America would be directly affected by the outcome.

This perceived arrogance drove Japanese leaders to become nervous about the future of their nation. They began to believe that it was only a matter of time before its military was worn down.

They also believed that America was keeping an eye on the events of Japan during the war and waiting for the military to run out of steam, as that would be a perfect opportunity for America or one of its allies to step in and overtake Japan with very little effort or money needed.

This became a focus of the Japanese government as it watched its military strength continue to weaken during a war in which America, to that point had carefully avoided any involvement. This meant in the mind of the Japanese leaders, that America was resting in a militaristic sense and when Japan became weak enough it would not take any effort at all to dominate the smaller nation.

In a last ditch effort to gain power and to protect what it believed to be its national reputation Japan made the decision to attack America before it… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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