The misunderstanding between Japan and the United States began in the 1930s, when different opinions over China drove two nations apart. Japan was a conqueror and strong military power, trying to strengthen its positions and gaining its rule over more and more territories. In 1931, Japan conquered Manchuria, which until then had been part of China. In 1937, Japan began a long and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to conquer the rest of China. In 1940, the Japanese government allied their country with the Nazi Germany in the Axis Alliance, and in the following year it occupied all of Indochina.
The USA was alarmed by the Japanese actions and it had significant political and economic interests in East Asia as well. Japan was poor in natural resources and the next step of the USA was that it increased its financial and military aid to China and, at the same time, decreased the shipment of oil and other raw materials to Japan. Japan, regarding this step as a threat to the nation, strengthened its conquering politics, resolving to seize the resource-rich areas of Southeast Asia. They already did not pay attention to the fact that this action would certainly result in war with the USA.
Japan also started working out the plan of Pearl Harbor attack with the aim to immobilize the US fleet at the beginning of the war with an unexpected attack. In the spring of 1941, Japanese carrier pilots began training in the special tactics, called for by the Pearl Harbor attack plan.
In October 1941, the naval general staff gave a final approval to Yamamoto's plan and Japan formed an attack force, commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. The force centered around six heavy aircraft carriers, accompanied by twenty four supporting vessels. A separate group of submarines was to sink any American warships that escaped the Japanese carrier force.
The attacking planes came in two waves: the first hit its target at 7:53 a.m., the second at 8:55.a.m. By 9:55 p.m.it was all over. By 1:00 p.m. the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan. The Japanese achieved an ultimate surprise, when they hit American ships and military bases on Oahu before 8:00 a.m., and at the same time, they hit the fleet, anchored in Pearl Harbor. These simultaneous attacks were aimed to destroy American planes before they could rise to intercept the Japanese.
Although there were more than ninety ships in Pearl Harbor, the primary targets were the best eight battleships anchored there. The attack ruined or brought about damage of varying degrees to all main targets in minutes. Shortly before 10:00a.m., when the attack ended, twenty-one ships of the US Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, American dead numbered two thousand four hundred and three.
The Japanese success in Pearl Harbor was overwhelming, but if they only knew what the result of the attack would be. The Japanese failed to damage any American planes that were absent from Pearl Harbor. They did not damage the shore side facilities at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Americans repaired all the damaged battleships except for three. Most importantly, the Pearl Harbor attack started the road to atomic bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, since the Americans turned the Pearl Harbor defeat into the entire commitment to victory in World War II.