United States, World

Pearl Harbor: Was it Justified?


“December 7, 1941, a day that will live in terror.”  These words, spoken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that forever changed American history.  On December 7th, 1941, the country of Japan invaded the American naval base of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii killing thousands of people and destroying countless navy ships and supplies.  This was a huge surprise to the county of America and this horrific act of terror resulted in an immediate declaration of war issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Japan was not justified to attack Pearl Harbor as the United States never committed any acts of violence and terror towards  Japan. However the real question is, what motive would the Japanese have to commit such a great act of terror against the United States.

  Pearl Harbor is located in Honolulu, Hawaii just 2,000 miles away from the U.S. mainland.  As no one in the American Military thought Pearl Harbor was a threat, it was left for the most part defenseless and not well guarded making it an easy target to other countries in the west including Japan which was only four thousand miles away from the Hawaiian Coast.  At 8 A.M. on December 8th, 1941, Hundreds of Japanese fighter pilots fled the skies of Pearl Harbor destroying 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes. The main goal of this tragic Japanese event was to destroy the United States Navy Pacific Fleet making it so Japan could expand their control of the pacific.  Although Japan had killed many people and destroyed many ships/planes, The United States Navy was able to rebound fast repairing many ships and declaring war on the county of Japan. Although the United States and Japan had been inching towards war for a while, this conflict was without a doubt a reason to enter war with Japan.  Right after the declaration of war was issued by America, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy had declared war on the United States bringing America into World War 2. However was Japan justified for the attack on Pearl Harbor and why would they commit such an act of terror against the United States?

One of the most main reasons for the country of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was that the United States had stopped sending Oil to the Japanese country.  This was because Japan had been ruthlessly killing Chinese and other Pacific Islanders. Originally Japan looked to oil-rich Southeast Asia, However they were already occupied by Western colonialists.   Also Japan was raping and killing innocent lives in China making the county of Japan an evil power. As China was a close ally with the United States, taking away the oil from japan was a justifiable act.  This was an unharmful and non- violent way of punishing Japan for committing acts of murder to the innocent people of China. Even after the Oil had been cut off, Japan was negotiating with the United States when really they were planning the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It was simply a sneak attack and the Japanese basically brought a powerful foe into World War II by attacking American soil which eventually brought down the Axis empire. Some people might say that Japan had the right to attack Pearl Harbor as Japan was only trying to expand and regain its oil as they only had enough oil reserve to last them 2 years, however if Japan never attacked the thousands of innocent chinese people, the United States would never have cut off the county of Japan’s oil supply.  All in all Japan was not justified to attack Pearl Harbor as they didn’t have a big enough reason to and the United States didn’t use any violence or break any rules against the Japanese Empire.

The second main reason the Japanese attacked the innocent naval base of Pearl Harbor was the Lend Lease Act of 1941.  This act was established by the United States and it made it so the United States could aid foreign countries during World War II and in fact one of those countries was China, Japan’s long time enemy.  America started to send the country of China military supplies including weapons to help China defend against themselves against Japan. This angered the Empire of Japan and Japan sought for revenge after this.  Both countries wanted to be on top and when Japan raged war on Pearl Harbor, this was the worst mistake ever made by the Japanese empire because soon after, the United States nuked the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing hundreds of thousands of people resulting in the surrender of Japan. The Lend Lease was not a direct act of harm and terror against the country of Japan and this should not have been a reason for the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  

All in all Japan had no reasonable justification for the horrific attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.  The pathetic country of Japan wanted to expand its navy and power in the Pacific and the only way of doing this in their sick mind was to surprise the United Stated with a full on attack killing innocent people who had families and lives ahead of them to go home to but because of the evil empire of Japan, this was not possible.  On the day of September 2nd, 1945 Japan surrendered to the United States as their Navy and Air Force were completely destroyed and two major Japanese cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, had been nuked by America. Japan had brought the United States into this disgraceful war, and we send them straight back out of it showing once again The United States of America was the ultimate power house of the World.  As students, we need to learn from the mistakes the Japanese made not so long ago that cost many lives, so we as a county can thrive for a more peaceful and better future.

Article by Nico Gambetta & Video by Matthew Jenner

Works Cited

Brett. “3 Reasons Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor.” Pearl Harbor Warbirds, 25 Feb. 2016,   https://pearlharborwarbirds.com/why-japan-attacked-pearl-harbor/

“Japan Surrenders.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/japan-surrenders.


The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Pearl Harbor Attack.” Encyclopædia Britannica,           Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Feb. 2018,     









  1. I agree with the points made in this article. Japan surprise-attacking America is an extreme and inappropriate measure to deal with a trading issue. The Lend-Lease Act helping China also shouldn’t have solicited such a horrible attack from Japan.

  2. Although I agree with the main point that Japan was not justified in attacking the United States through the bombing of Pearl Harbor, another key reason for the Japanese attack was public sentiment in Japan. During the early 1940’s, Japan maintained control of an efficient and powerful navy and army. If the Japanese were to back down from and accept the United States’ economic pressure, they would concede much of the influence they held on the world stage. The Japanese public would question why they did not fight back and would also question their leader in Emperor Hirohito, something that neither they nor Japan’s leader desired.