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9-08-2015, 21:57

THE CHINA WAR AND THE ORIGINS OF THE PACIFIC WAR, 1937–41

The Pacific War grew out of Japan’s China War
renewed in 1937. It was essentially the future of
China that four years later led Japan to war with
the US. The decision for war was taken in Tokyo
in September 1941 because the US was seen
as the enemy unalterably opposed to Japan’s
concept of its right to a dominant role in China
and eastern Asia. The only chance for peace was
a change in the course of American policy as perceived
by the Japanese, and this did not happen.
The Japanese leaders believed that the choice
before them was to fulfil the task of conquest or
to acquiesce in Japan’s national decline.
But the course of events that led to war was
not so straightforward when looked at in depth,
and raises fascinating questions. Was the Japanese
perception of US policy correct? Britain and the
US, moreover, were not the only two strong
Western powers with interests in eastern Asia.
From the beginning of Japan’s expansion in
China, the only country capable of challenging
Japan’s army on land, with an army of millions,
other than Nationalist China, was Russia. At the
time, in the mid-1930s, the Japanese military
asked themselves whether Japan’s empire could
ever be completely safe without first removing the
potential Russian threat. Should therefore a war
against its northern neighbour precede the efforts
to control China? Indeed, might an alliance with
China against the Soviet Union be possible? And
if the Soviet Union was to be fought, or checked
from interfering in Japan’s China policy, then
might not Europe help?
Such a view corresponded with the traditions
of Japanese foreign policy. From 1902 until its
dissolution at the Washington Conference two
decades later, Japan had enjoyed the support of
the Anglo-Japanese alliance. In the new conditions
of the 1930s, Hitler’s Germany was the
obvious counterweight to Bolshevik Russia. The
history of German–Japanese relations from 1936,
when Japan first joined the Anti-Comintern Pact,
to the close of the Second World War is another
important theme.
The roots of the conflict lie in the militaristicspiritual
values that Japanese education inculcated.
During the 1930s these values were
translated into politics by the small group of military,
naval and political leaders who exercised
power. They now controlled a highly centralised
bureaucratic state, having reversed the earlier
broadening of political participation which had
taken place during the so-called era of Taisho
‘democracy’ of the 1920s. Men like Prince
Konoe, prime minister in 1937–9 and 1940–1,
believed that Japan had a right to achieve equality
with other great powers. Unlike the US and
the British Empire, Japan lacked the necessary
resources within its own tightly packed islands to
fulfil the role of a great power. It was a have-not
nation, so some Japanese argued, claiming only
the opportunity for prosperity and strength to
which its advanced culture, civilisation and capacity
for modern technical development entitled it.
For Konoe’s foreign minister, Matsuoko, Japan’s
international conduct was also a question of
national pride. No Japanese must accept the
insulting, inferior role the Western imperialists
assigned to them. Only by showing forceful
courage would the West ever be convinced of the
equality of Japan. The view of many American
politicians was precisely the counterpart of this;
the Japanese would give way if shown a firm hand.
While Western Realpolitik was certainly practised
by Japanese policy makers, the ultimate
factor deciding national policy was not rational
policy but chauvinism masquerading as spiritual
values. The chief of the Japanese naval general
staff, for instance, urged in 1941 that Japan
should wage war to remain true to the spirit of
national defence, saying, ‘even if we might not
win the war, this noble spirit of defending the
fatherland will be perpetuated and our posterity
will rise again and again’. The ‘spirit’ of war itself
was glorified; a nation that denied this spirit and
did not rise against injustice would deserve to
decay. The ‘injustice’ referred to was America’s
denial that Japan had the sole right to shape
China’s destiny. All this chauvinistic spirituality
was not the inevitable heritage of Japanese beliefs.
There were opposing views, socialist, pacific views
based on different Japanese traditions.
Britain and the US formally protested at
Japanese aggression in China, but there was no
thought in the 1930s of resisting it by force so
long as only China was involved. Japan, moreover,
stressed the anti-communist aspect of its
policy when concluding the Anti-Comintern Pact
with Germany in November 1936. The following
summer of 1937 was decisive in the policies
pursued by the Kwantung and Manchurian
armies. In June Russia’s capability to hinder
Japanese objectives in China was tested. There
was more sporadic fighting on the borders with
Russia in 1938. The fighting capacity of the
Soviet Union had recovered sufficiently from
Stalin’s purges of the armed forces to inflict a
severe defeat on the Japanese army at Nomonhan
in August 1939. More than 18,000 Japanese were
killed. This evidence of Soviet strength, coming
close on the heels of the German–Soviet Non-
Aggression Pact, led the Japanese to revise their
estimate that Russia was too weak to interfere in
China. The Soviet Union became an important
factor in Japan’s calculations. Meanwhile the die
in China had long been cast, but the Japanese
army, despite its victorious advances, could not
bring the China War to an end.
The Japanese army had continued to interfere
and expand its influence in northern China from
1933 to 1937, but in the whole of northern China
the Japanese garrison was only 6,000 men. Then,
near Peking, on an ancient bridge, Chinese and
Japanese soldiers clashed in July 1937. The Marco
Polo Bridge incident was in itself minor; exactly
how a small number of Japanese and Chinese
troops came to clash is still obscure. There is no
evidence (unlike in Manchuria in 1931) that the
Japanese army had planned war against China and
provoked the conflict. There were divided counsels
in Tokyo. The hawks won. At first, sharp local
actions were undertaken in the expectation that
Nationalist China would be overawed. Full-scale
war ensued when Chiang Kai-shek chose to resist
instead. The war quickly spread from northern
China. The Japanese attacked Shanghai and by
December 1937 the Nationalist capital of Nanking
had fallen. Japanese reinforcements had been
rushed to China. In the Shanghai–Nanking operation
the Japanese suffered 70,000 casualties and
the Chinese at least 370,000. By then 700,000
Japanese troops were engaged in China. After
1938 close to 1 million Japanese troops were fighting
some 3 million Chinese troops. The Japanese
troops behaved with the utmost brutality, massacring,
raping and looting. The ‘rape of Nanking’
leaving 20,000 Chinese civilians dead, became a
byword for barbarity, shocking the West. It was
not the end of the war, as the Japanese hoped, but
its beginning. The China War became a threesided
struggle between the Chinese Communists,
the Chinese Nationalists and the Japanese. The
Communists’ main priority was to gain control
over as much of the territories evacuated by the
Nationalists as they could. The Nationalist Chinese
armies bore the brunt of the regular fighting.
The sinking of the US naval vessel, Panay, and
damage to the British Ladybird in December
1937 directly involved the two Western powers in
the conflict. Since the autumn of 1937 Roosevelt
had been searching for some effective counterblast
to German, Italian and now Japanese aggression.
He gave expression to his desire for ‘positive
endeavours to preserve peace’ in his well-known
‘Quarantine’ speech in Chicago on 5 October
1937. He called on the peace-loving nations to
make a ‘concerted effort’ in opposition to the lawless
aggressors; that lawlessness, he declared, was
spreading and the aggressors, like sick patients,
should be placed in ‘quarantine’. It was rousing
stuff but meant little in concrete terms. The
depression preoccupied the US and Britain at
home. Neither Congress in America nor Parliament
in Britain would contemplate war with
Japan. After the Panay incident, and before full
Japanese apologies were received, Roosevelt for a
short while had considered economic sanctions.
What destabilised relations further was a renewed
naval race between Japan and the US.
Meanwhile, the powers with interests in China
had met in Brussels but the conference assembled
there could achieve nothing. Britain would not act
without US backing, or in advance of American
policy. The needs of the Dominions, Australia and
New Zealand, for adequate protection or peace
in the Pacific were obvious. Britain could not
match the worldwide defence requirements of
its Commonwealth with its available military
resources, which had been neglected for years. As
the crisis mounted in Europe the British navy was
needed in home waters and the Mediterranean
and could not be spared for Singapore. Although
recognising clearly the threat Japan posed to
British interests in China and Asia, a cautious policy
had to be followed: conciliation and firmness
without risking war at a time of European dangers.
In 1939 the Japanese blockaded the British
concession in Tientsin, demanding that Britain in
effect abandon Nationalist China. It was a serious
crisis but the simultaneous threat of war in Europe
decided the British Cabinet in June 1939 to reach
a compromise with Japan.
The first tentative shift of American policy,
nevertheless, did occur just after Britain’s climbdown
in the summer of 1939. Of fundamental
importance for the history of eastern Asia was that
for a decade the US felt uncritically anti-Japanese
while Chiang Kai-shek became an American folk
hero.
The prime minister, Prince Fumimaro Konoe,
would have liked to bring the war in China to an
end but his ‘solution’ implied Chinese acceptance
of Japan as the senior member of the Asian
‘family’. That is how the Japanese deluded themselves
that their aggression was really for the good
of all the Asian people. The vastness of Chinese
territory denied the Japanese army the possibility
of conquering the whole of China, even after
eight years of warfare. Within the huge areas they
did occupy, despite the utmost barbarity of the
occupation, which would have been unthinkable
in the Meiji era, much of the countryside remained
under Communist or Nationalist control. The
Japanese for the most part could make their occupation
effective only in the towns and along the
vital railway lines.
Encouraged by moral and some material
American support, Chiang Kai-shek refused all
peace terms that would have subjugated China in
the manner of Japan’s Twenty-One Demands. In
November 1938 Konoe sought to make it clear to
Chiang Kai-shek, and the world, that Japan would
never leave China. Japan would establish a New
Order in Asia through the economic, political and
cultural union of Japan, Manchukuo and China.
The new order served notice to the Western
powers that there would be no room for Western
interests of the kind that had existed in China
before. Early in 1939 Konoe resigned. It is certainly
mistaken to see him as a peaceful moderate,
though he endeavoured to avoid war with the US
without abandoning Japan’s anti-Western policy
in east Asia. German victories in Europe from
September 1939 to July 1940 greatly strengthened
the impatient military. With the abolition of
political parties Japan became more authoritarian.
In July 1940 Konoe headed a second government.
Japan drew closer to Germany, concluding,
as a result of Foreign Minister Matsuoka’s urging,
the Three-Power Pact (Italy was also a signatory)
on 27 September 1940. It purported to be an
agreement on the division of the world. Japan
recognised Germany’s and Italy’s leadership in the
establishment of a ‘new order in Europe’;
Germany and Italy recognised the ‘leadership of
Japan in the establishment of a new order in
Greater Asia’. With the reservation of Japanese
neutrality towards the Soviet Union, the three
powers promised to help each other by all means,
including military, if attacked by a ‘Power at pre-
sent not involved in the European War or in the
Sino-Japanese Conflict’. That article (three)
pointed to the US. What was the purpose of the
alliance? Both the Japanese and the Germans at
the time hoped it would act as a deterrent against
the US involving itself in a war over Asian issues.
Hitler, furthermore, hoped Japan would attack
Singapore, thus increasing the pressure on Britain
to make peace with Germany or to face even worse
military complications in defence of its empire. In
Tokyo, in all probability without Berlin having
any knowledge of it, the German ambassador in
an additional exchange of notes with Matsuoka
conceded to the Japanese a good deal of flexibility
in the honouring of their obligations to help
Germany militarily if, in fact, the US went to war
with Germany alone and not with Japan.
The existence of the treaty made a deep impression
on Roosevelt, who saw it as confirmation that
all the aggressors in Europe and Asia were linked
in one world conspiracy of aggression. Roosevelt
discovered that this was not, in fact, so when the
Japanese–American confrontation had reached the
point in September 1941 at which war was seen by
the Japanese as the only way out. But the prime
cause of US–Japanese tension was not the
German–Japanese alliance. That lacked all substance
on the Japanese side. Konoe instructed the
Japanese Embassy in Washington in September
1941 to tell the US that if it went to war with
Germany in Europe, Japan would not feel itself
bound to declare war on the US in the Pacific but
that the ‘execution of the Tripartite Pact shall be
independently decided’.
The account of how the US and Japan came
to be engaged in the Pacific War is a twisted and
tangled one. Roosevelt did not want a war in the
Pacific, believing that the defeat of Nazi Germany
should take priority. Hitler urged the Japanese to
strike at the British Empire in Asia, thereby weakening
Britain’s capacity to oppose him in Europe
and the Mediterranean. If the Japanese decided
they had to attack the US simultaneously, they
were assured of Germany’s alliance. What the
Japanese wanted was to finish the war in China,
not to have to take on America as well.
In Britain both Chamberlain before May 1940
and Churchill afterwards wished to avoid the
extension of war in the Pacific. In 1940 and 1941
Britain was engaged in fighting in the Mediterranean
and the Middle East to preserve its
power there. The Dominions of New Zealand and
Australia, moreover, clamoured for adequate
defence in eastern Asia; that defence would best
be served by peace and deterrence. But Churchill
believed that for deterrence to have credibility the
US and Britain would need to form a counterpart
to the Triple Alliance of Japan, Germany and Italy,
so that Japan would realise that its expansion
beyond the limits which Britain and the US were
prepared to accept in south-east Asia would result
in war. Thus both Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s
thinking was based on the theory of deterrence.
The mutual policies of deterrence – of the
Japanese on the one hand, and of the US and
Britain on the other – failed. The US was not
deterred by Japan’s alliance with Germany and
Italy from continuing to play a role as an eastern
Asian power. Indeed, it stepped up its support for
Chiang Kai-shek. Without Nationalist Chinese
resistance, the ever-growing pretensions of Japan’s
co-prosperity sphere would become a reality,
placing Western interests completely at Japan’s
mercy. For Britain, the vital regions were those
bordering on the British Empire in Malaya,
Burma and India. In this way the French colonies
of Indo-China, the Dutch East Indies, independent
Thailand and the American Philippines came
to be seen as the key areas to be defended against
Japan. But the ‘firm’ policy towards Japan eventually
adopted by the US to impede Japanese
expansion triggered off among Japan’s leaders an
almost fatalistic response that war with the US
and Britain was preferable to the kind of peace, a
return to the Washington peace structure of the
1920s, which the two Western powers sought.
The crux was China. Britain and the US were not
prepared to accept Japanese domination over
China. Roosevelt held to the simple truth that
China was for the Chinese. Furthermore, if the
Japanese were allowed to achieve their aims in
China no Western interests in eastern Asia would
be safe.
The course of US policy from 1940 to 1941
was nevertheless not clear or consistent. It is
sometimes difficult to fathom precisely what was
in Roosevelt’s mind. He was sensitive to
American public opinion, which increasingly
demanded tough measures, short of war, to
restrain Japan from ousting US commerce from
China. Yet, with war raging across the Atlantic,
Roosevelt genuinely wished to preserve peace in
the Pacific for as long as possible, though not on
Japan’s terms. The US possessed powerful retaliatory
economic weapons: the American market
for Japanese goods, American raw materials essential
to Japan, including oil, and capital for
Japanese industry. Secretary of State Cordell Hull
advised caution in applying any economic sanctions;
but some of Roosevelt’s other advisers,
including the powerful secretary of the treasury,
Henry Morgenthau, believed that Japan would
have to accept American conditions for a just
settlement in China once the US made use of its
economic muscle, for oil and raw materials were
essential to sustain a Japanese war against the
West. Roosevelt followed an uncertain middle
course. In July 1939, the Japanese were informed
that the treaty of commerce with the US would
be terminated in January 1940. This was the first
tentative application of economic pressure and
shocked the Japanese leaders. After its termination
it would be possible to impose sanctions
other than ‘moral embargoes’.
With the defeat of the Netherlands and France
by Germany in the summer of 1940, the chances
of peace in the Pacific grew less. French and
Dutch possessions in south-east Asia now became
tempting targets for Japan, which cast covetous
eyes particularly on the Dutch East Indies with
their valuable raw materials of tin, rubber and
oil. But the American administration made clear
that it would regard any change in the status quo
of these European possessions as endangering
American interests and peace in the Pacific. In
1940 Japan increased the pressure on France and
Britain to block aid to China. Vichy France had
to accept the stationing of Japanese troops in
northern Indo-China and for a time Britain
agreed to close the Burma Road along which supplies
had been sent to Nationalist China. If the
US were not prepared to use its economic
weapons, then, the British argued, there was
nothing left for them to do but to attempt to
appease Japan.
In July 1940, Roosevelt took a second step to
apply economic pressure on Japan. He ordered
that the export of petrol suitable for aviation fuel
be restricted, in addition to lubricants and highgrade
scrap metal. Although this was intended as a
limited embargo, there were those in Washington
who, rightly as it turned out, foretold that turning
the screw would not make for peace but would
lead the Japanese in desperation to attack the
Dutch East Indies. Roosevelt was well aware of
the danger and characteristically wanted to apply
some pressure but not push Japan too hard. The
Tripartite Pact, which Japan, Germany and
Italy concluded in September 1940, hardened
Roosevelt’s attitude. In a speech soon after the
conclusion of the pact, Roosevelt declared: ‘No
combination of dictator countries of Europe and
Asia will stop the help we are giving to . . . those
who resist aggression, and who now hold the
aggressors far from our shores.’ All the same, from
the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1941
Roosevelt attempted to dampen down the crisis in
the Pacific. He gave some additional help to
China, but also urged restraint on Japan. He also
made it clear that he was still willing and anxious to
negotiate a settlement. Meanwhile he rejected
Churchill’s urging that the US and Britain should
jointly take steps so that the Japanese should be
left in no doubt that further aggression in Asia
meant war.
Negotiations got under way in Washington
between the Japanese ambassador Nomura and
Secretary of State Cordell Hull in the spring of
1941. Meanwhile, the Japanese signed a neutrality
pact with the Soviet Union and were extending
their military bases to southern Indo-China in
the obvious direction of the Dutch East Indies.
A crucial decision was taken in Tokyo that
affected the whole course of world history. The
plan to strike north from China and join Germany
in the war against the Soviet Union was rejected.
Japan would advance to the south to secure the
raw materials vital to its own needs. An imperial
conference on 2 July 1941 gave its seal of
approval to that decision. The goal was the Dutch
East Indies. Japan did not wish to go to war with
the US and the British Empire. Its diplomats
would try to convince London and Washington
that for Japan this was a question of survival. If
Britain and the US, however, opposed the southern
drive, the Japanese Empire would not shrink
from war either.
Roosevelt proposed that, if Japan withdrew
from southern French Indo-China, the raw materials
it needed could be guaranteed by the powers
and the region would be neutralised. What
impressed the Japanese more was the order freezing
Japanese funds in the US and an American
trade embargo which, despite Roosevelt’s initial
intentions, included oil. But Roosevelt’s object
was still to avoid war in the Pacific, while somehow
getting the US in on the side of Britain in Europe.
After the German invasion of Russia during the
summer of 1941, he also ordered that ways be
found to provide all-out aid to the Soviet Union.
So when in mid-August 1941 Nomura suggested
the continuation of informal negotiations
to settle American–Japanese differences, Roosevelt
agreed. Nomura suggested a meeting between
Prime Minister Konoe and the American president.
Roosevelt was excited by the idea, but followed
the advice of the State Department and
insisted that first the Japanese government should
accept a number of basic propositions: they should
desist from a southern drive of conquest (that is,
in the direction of the Dutch East Indies), they
should agree to withdraw troops from China and
to give up any economic discrimination, and they
should detach themselves from the Tripartite Pact.
All but one of these preconditions were entirely
unacceptable to the Japanese. They might have
been willing to halt their southern expansion on
their own terms, but not to make any but token
withdrawals from China.
What the Americans were really demanding
was the Japanese abandonment of the basic tenets
of their co-prosperity sphere. The negotiations
dragged on through October and November.
The gulf between the Japanese and American
concepts of the future peace of eastern Asia was
as wide as ever, despite the search by the diplomats
for some middle ground. As late as mid-
November 1941, Roosevelt was searching
without success for a compromise that would lead
to a postponement of war for at least six months.
This shows that for Roosevelt, in any case,
Germany still came first, but his judgements
proved very changeable.
In Tokyo the basic countdown to war was
decided upon at the Imperial Conference which
took place on 6 September 1941. Prime Minister
Konoe opened the meeting saying that Japan
must complete its war preparations, but that
diplomacy should be given a last chance to resolve
peacefully the problems facing it. If diplomacy
failed, and only a limited time could be allowed
for its success, then Japan must fight a war of selfdefence.
The US’s conditions for a settlement,
involving not only a barrier to the southern drive
of Japan but also American insistence that Japan
withdraw its troops from China and abandon its
demands for exclusive economic control, were,
Konoe claimed, tantamount to denying Japan’s
right to exist as an equal and Asian power.
Without oil and a certain source of essential raw
materials Japan was at the mercy of foreign
powers. That was Japan’s interpretation of the
American proposals for a peaceful settlement.
The chief of naval staff, Admiral Nagumo Osami,
moreover, was confident that the Japanese navy’s
early victories would place Japan in an ‘invincible
position’ even in a long war. The Japanese army
chief of staff urged the opening of hostilities as
soon as possible while Japan still enjoyed a relative
military advantage. The tone of the conference
was therefore that war with the US and
Britain would become inevitable unless American
policy rapidly altered course. In October, Konoe
resigned and made way for a new government
headed by General Hideki Tojo, a clear indication
that the moment for war was drawing close.
The outcome of these Tokyo conferences
became known in Washington from the intercepted
instructions cabled from Tokyo to Ambassador
Nomura, who was still negotiating with
Cordell Hull in Washington. The Japanese code
had been broken by the Americans, who were now
privy to the Japanese secrets. They thus learnt that
the Japanese had a time limit in mind for the
success of these negotiations. Furthermore, that
there could be no question of any genuine
Japanese withdrawal from China and that when
the time limit expired the Japanese army and navy
would extend the war by continuing their drive
southward against the Dutch and British possessions.
What was not clear was whether the
Japanese intended to attack the US simultaneously
in the Pacific. The Americans, therefore, were
aware while negotiating that unless they were prepared
to abandon China war would become
inevitable. The Japanese might be brought to
compromise on their ‘southern’ drive in return for
American neutrality but not on the issue of the
war in China. The Hull–Nomura negotiations
were thus unreal, maintained on the American
side mainly in the hope of delaying the outbreak
of war. It is in this light that Roosevelt’s remarks
at a policy conference that took place on 25
November must be judged. Roosevelt by this time
regarded war as virtually inevitable, observing:
‘The question now was how we should manoeuvre
them into the position of firing the first shot
without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’
But the well-known Hull Note of the following
day, sent in reply to an earlier Japanese
note, was couched in the form of a ‘tentative outline’
to serve as a ‘basis for agreement’. It set out
America’s ideas for a settlement point by point.
The Japanese could look forward to a normalisation
of trade and access to raw materials in return
for peace in eastern Asia; the Japanese must
promise to respect the territorial integrity of all its
neighbours; the ‘impossible’ American condition
from the Japanese point of view was that both
Japan and the US should give up their special
rights in China and that Japan should withdraw all
its military forces from China and Indo-China.
At the Imperial Conference in Tokyo on 1
December 1941, this note was placed before the
assembled Japanese leaders as if it were an ultimatum.
It was a deliberate misrepresentation by
the Japanese themselves, intended to unite the
ministers. Differences were now, indeed, reconciled.
The decision was reached to attack Britain,
the Netherlands and the US simultaneously.
The Japanese sent a formal declaration of war
to Washington, intending it to be delivered fifty
minutes before the carrier planes of Admiral
Yamamoto’s task force, which was at that
moment secretly making for Pearl Harbor,
attacked America’s principal naval base in the
Pacific. Unfortunately, the Japanese Embassy was
slow in decyphering the message and so the
Japanese envoys appeared at the State Department
almost an hour after the start of the Pearl
Harbor attack on the US fleet. That made 7
December 1941 an unintentional, even greater
‘day of infamy’.
Japan had decided to start the war having
clearly set a time limit for negotiations in
September. It was self-deception to believe that
the US was about to make war on Japan after
Hull’s note on 26 September, even if Roosevelt
thought war virtually inevitable. There is no evidence
that Congress would have allowed the
president to declare war for the sake of China or
of any non-American possessions in Asia attacked
by the Japanese. The traumatic loss of lives and
ships, the fact and manner of the Japanese attack,
now ensured a united American response for war.
For Churchill a great cloud had lifted. With the
US in the war, he knew that Hitler would now
be defeated. Furthermore, the US found herself
simultaneously at war with Germany, not by resolution
of Congress, which might still have been
difficult to secure, but by Hitler’s decision to
declare war on America. In this way it came about
that in December 1941 all the great powers of
the world were at war.
It was Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku,
commander-in-chief of the Japanese navy, who
had planned the daring pre-emptive strike on Pearl
Harbor. The actual task force was commanded by
Vice-Admiral Nagumo Chuichi. The Japanese
warships reached a position 275 miles north of
Pearl Harbor, escaping detection; Nagumo
ordered the carrier planes, two waves of bombers
and fighters, into action and they hit Pearl Harbor
on a Sunday morning. The naval base was unprepared.
Six battleships were sunk and the remaining
two damaged; many planes were destroyed on the
ground; 2,403 servicemen and civilians were killed.
The unexpected position of the Japanese task
force, and lack of proper service cooperation in
Washington were responsible for the disaster. That
Roosevelt and Churchill wanted it to happen
belongs to the legend of conspiracy theories. The
US Pacific fleet was only temporarily crippled; of
the eight battleships six were repaired and saw
action again.

 

 

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