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When we were asked to consider a question to answer, which would have been suitable for our personal study, I knew straight away that I would want to structure my question around Pearl Harbor. Since childhood, watching movies about Pearl Harbor always caught my attention. From most movies and books it seemed to me as if the Japanese people were just cruel and evil people, who had no basis to attack America; so was this the reason for the bombing? That they were just cruel people? Or did they have a legitimate reason which had been completely cut out of history by authors and the Hollywood directors?
That question was embedded in my mind, and I always thought that I would research it when I had time, or to speak the truth, be motivated to. After sitting a few classes in lower sixth history, which was based upon our personal studies; I had realised that this was the ‘time’ I was looking for. I could answer a question that really made me think, and not only that I would also be doing it as a little study. This furthered my interest on such a crucial time during World War Two. I went to the library and took out a couple of books regarding Pearl Harbor.
Once I had read the books; I assumed I would now know the reason for Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, but the books I read had something in common, it told me how the bombing took place, how many were killed or injured etc, but never once mentioned why this all had taken place. The bombing by a few historians was seen as a ‘focal’ point in that era, which helped secure a win for the Allies, so why was only half of the story published? In-fact it I possessed the same amount of knowledge on this particular topic, as I had done previously.
This was when I decided to take it a step further and took out a selection of books regarding the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and also did some research on the internet. At first it was overwhelming having so much information in front of my eyes and now knowing how I should analysis it all. This was when I decided that I would read each book/site at different times of the day so I did not get confused. After each book or site I had read, I took a notepad and jotted down all the crucial sentences, phrases, and even copied pictures which would give me jump start.
Now knowing that the question was answerable, I submitted it to my history teacher. Whilst I was awaiting her acknowledgment, I for some unknown reason had left everything unfinished. It was only during Christmas holidays, did I really start to think about a basic plan for my personal studies. I knew that in total I should be aiming to have at least three chapters (which did not include my conclusion). I would separate them into three separate categories; time leading up to the bombing, the day the bombing had taken place, and finally a key reason for the atrocity following a conclusion to tie up the lose ends.
After receiving a conformation on the title, all I had to do was to read my notes which had been previously written a little while before. I would say that making my notes before writing the study had helped me a lot. I did not have to waste my time finding and analysing facts, as I had already done so. By the end of January, I had completed my first complete draft. It seemed to me that I had covered all the relevant issues which had to be mentioned which would help me get an answer.
In total my first draft was made up of two-thousand one-hundred words, around a little more than a thousand words short than the maximum allowed. I took advantage of this and decided that I would use this gap to analysis each fact I presented. This was a good idea as I could comment on whether I thought a source was reliable or not. Overall I was satisfied with what I had achieved, in the space of time I had left. In future if I were ever given a similar task as this, I would remember to use the time wisely, and not take it for granted.
I am sure if I had done that this time round, I would have been able to go through more sources, which would have given me a much better image to discuss. Another aspect of this study, which I am happy about is the fact it has shown me that I am capable of answering such an awkward question, and can make a sound judgment on what are relevant facts and what are just unreliable. This study also gave me a new perspective on the whole topic surrounding the incident at Pearl Harbor; I got an answer to my question, and had been implanted a new question in my head.
Did America provoke Japan into making the first move, which would secure the fate of America fighting the Nazi regime? Who knows, some time in the future when I have the ‘motivation’ I may be very well be answering that question, and am sure I could to a reasonable job of it due to the skills I have picked up from answering this study. Please Note: The writing in italic is the quote and the writing in bold is my comment on the source. The letter or number beside the quote indicates where I got it from, the list of books and sites can be seen on the last page.
Chapter One – Events leading up to the attack of Pearl Harbor “The Japanese attack on the American fleet based at Pearl Harbor was less an attempt to provoke the United States into a declaration of war than a final admission that war between the United States and Japan was bound to come. ” Through hindsight I know that this quote is quiet reliable; it shows that there was hostility between the twp nations which had provoked the bombing. When trying to answer the question (above) and you come across such quotes; you can see the jigsaw taking shape.
On the other hand, I still have to be cautious as this was written thirty-nine years after the bombing, and could have been exaggerated to make Japan look as if they were ware mongers. This signaled the end of a long period of increasing bitterness between the two nations. The ‘struggle’ was centered on Japan’s ambitions for an unchallenged hegemony in the Far East. During the early 1920’s the Americans held a conference in Washington. This was in direct result of Japan ceasing Manchuria.
The reason America had condemned and refused to recognize the state of Manchukuo (which was set up to replace Manchuria) was solely due to the fact that the Japanese troops had just marched into Manchuria and took it over, as well as the fact that it “presented a direct threat to the ‘open door’ policy”. Japan was becoming an increasingly crowded country; Manchuria offered around 200,000 square kilometers of land, which to the Japanese looked as an attractive offer. By 1931 Japan had invested vast sums of money into the economy of Manchuria, which at that time was controlled by the South Manchuria Railway Company.
In order to protect the money Japan had invested, they stationed a large army in the South of Manchuria. An explosion on a section of the South Manchuria Railway had given the Japanese an excuse to blame the local population of sabotage and to occupy Manchuria. The Americans in Washington stated that “Great Britain, United States, and Japan” would be allowed to have the amount of ships in a naval fleet at the ration of “5:5:3”. Obviously the Japanese were the ones to ‘pull the short straw’. As years went by, there were several more treaties signed and enforced, which furthermore restricted Japan and its naval fleet.
The same treaties also had an impact on the United States and Great Britain, but it had a deeper impact on Japan, rather than on the western super powers. In December of 1936 Japan has urged the United States to be lenient and allow them (Japan) to have “naval parity”, but this was rejected on the grounds of pre-existing treaties. The rejection had given no other alternative, but to withdraw from the London Conference, which was going to be held on January of 1936. Within a year of the withdrawal, the Japanese construction of naval vessels had, exceeded that of France, Italy, Germany and Russia.
They were now looking to be a formidable rival to the American fleet in the Pacific. As they were re-arming their forces, they had noticed that many countries in Asia seemed to fear the Japanese. This to Japan looked like a new opportunity for Japan to conquer Asia. “Already Japan’s leaders were declaring a policy of Japanese hegemony over Eastern Asia”. When President Roosevelt declared “I hate war” in a speech in 1936, Japan must have sensed that they would most probably get away with attacking USA. When President Roosevelt said that he hated war, I would say that it had a hidden agenda behind it.
Knowing that the only way he could go to war was is someone from the axis would attack the USA; he knew that Hitler was scared to bring in America, so they had to provoke another member of the axis, as Italy was to far, it would have to be Japan. Knowing that if Japan was provoked they would make a rash move, he set out to trap them. First say he hates ware, then secondly move and rename a fleet to the pacific, giving a mirage which showed that American troops were sitting ‘ducks’ which was not capable of defending itself from an attach.
This source is quiet reliable as it has from the President of America during the period it question, and it also had a direct correlations with the study title, as it shows that America was trying to play a ‘cat and mouse’ game with Japan. In the month of July of the year 1937, Japan had ceased the opportunity and moved its forces to Inner Mongolia, and Northern China. The reason they did this was because they could “extend their control of power. ” The Americans had sympathized with the Chinese and public opinion asked for something stronger to be done, rather than moral gestures put forward.
President Roosevelt replied with nothing more forceful than his ‘Quarantine’ speech of October 1977. The President saw war as a disease and that the best thing would be to stop the contagion spreading. He suggested “A quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease. ” The League of Nations in 1932 had condemned the actions that were inflicted by Japan, which violated the “Nine Power Treaty and the Kellogg Pact. ” To show Japan and the entire world, that the League of Nations would not accept such atrocities, they offered to hold a conference in Brussels.
As anticipated, Japan bluntly did not attend. Shortly after this, the Americans had decided that they were going to evacuate all their nationals from Chinese territories. The Japanese militarists saw this move as “a sign of weakness”. To test the ever so fragile cabinet and leader of the Americans, Japan had bombed and sunk “Gunboat Panay”, on 13th December 1937 in the Yangtze River. The Americans “immediately protested, demanding reparations. Japan apologized promptly and paid indemnities. ” Japan had taken over most of Northern and Central China by 1938.
This led America to urge to manufactures to put a “moral embargo” on the shipments of aircrafts and other ware attributed material. This did not seem to disturb, nor stop the Japanese from invading. By 1940 they had marched to the French-Indo China region, and had taken control. “By now, there was sharp disagreement on United States policy towards Japan in American government circles, with the cabinet itself divided. ” Experienced diplomats and statesmen such as Henry Morgenthal and Henry L. Stimsom said that some sort of ultimatum should have been given to Japan.
In mounting pressure Roosevelt issued an order restricting the supply of strategic materials, especially petroleum products to Japan. After much deliberation, he also allowed a naval fleet to re-base itself from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, which was in Honolulu, Hawaii. They were later renamed to the “Pacific Fleet”. Now tensions between the two nations were going to increase to a new level. The Japanese had to avoid provoking the Americans into war diplomatically, whilst still taking their exploiting their opportunity to the fullest possible.