The Reasons Japan attacked Pearl Harbor

by Kevin R Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

What were the reasons Japan attacked Pearl Harbor?

So often in Japan, I hear opinions that are totally divergent from what I have grown up hearing at school and elsewhere. One that I have sometimes heard and heard again recently from two very intelligent and well-informed Japanese, was that Japan was set-up by America in World War II. The Americans deliberately left Pearl Harbor largely undefended in order to lure the Japanese into attacking.

I personally don`t believe this. I think America really didn`t believe Japan would attack Hawaii in 1941. The code breakers were still trying to figure out the Japanese code at this point and couldn`t fully understand it, even up until the Midway battle. They weren`t sure of the code term for each geographical area for example. They were only able to deduce the attack on Midway after figuring out some Japanese code terms for certain areas, but this was quite a while after the Pearl Harbor attack.

I do think America felt war was inevitable, but they never imagined the first attack would occur at Pearl Harbor. They felt they would be attacked in the Philippines at first.

The Reasons Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor

The ultimatum too, was late getting to Washington due to an American plot. Presumably to make the Japanese look bad or to go along with the Pearl Harbor ruse.

Some have declared that China asked Japan to come and help to putdown some rebellions in China. I know the people of Nanking would disagree with this account of history. Many Japanese feel however, that the Nanking massacre never happened.They say there is no evidence for it. Sounds familiar? Many neo-Nazis claim thereis no evidence of the holocaust too. It can be a challenge to discern the truthat times, but there are cases in Japan for example, where the truth is deliberately hidden, exaggerated, and downright changed. Movements to disseminate the truth are brought down or stymied by a coalition of right wingers and politicians and officialswho fear it would damage Japan.

Sometimes what we grow up learning is later proved to be wrong as classified documents become unclassified, and this is true in all nations. Indeed, the bulk of the American carriers were luckily absent from the harbor, was this just a coincidence? The Twilight Zone music kicks in.

One of my students said last night that Japan should apologize to every country they fought with except America. When I pressed him on this he brought up the subject of the Pearl Harbor ruse. Is there any validity to this opinion or is it another myth?

Will later declassified documents prove our predominant opinion of a Japanese surprise attack wrong? I have my doubts, but when I hear well-readJapanese talk like this and back it up with quotes from the NHK, I again start to doubt what I have learned. Does the victor indeed write history and is always right?

I have often been angered by the Japanese claims of passivity and their claims of being victims due to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What about Pearl Harbor I want to scream at them! If you are going to talk about the atomic bombings surely you should mention the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, Nanking, the Death March and others, but they don’t see it that way. I think they should. You cannot look at the events of WW2 in isolation. Indeed they were all tragedies and should be atoned for.