Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?

1 Answer
Dec 22, 2015

I think it was meant to cripple in one definitive blow the ability of the US to wage war in the Pacific (heavily dependent on naval and carrier-borne operations) and in doing so give a definitive advantage to the Japanese forces and perhaps force the US to ask for peace.


The attack was meant to destroy the US fleet in one quick and decisive attack when the US ships were grouped in port and happening at the moment of the declaration of war to have the maximum surprise (and destructive effect).
Because of a delay (allegedly on purpose according to some sources) in handling the declaration of war, the attack happened when the two nations weren't at war yet (producing a wave of outrage and indignation).

Although considered an original and innovative attack I think the japanese had the inspiration of the attack from the English raid, using torpedo bombers (carrier based), against the Italian fleet in the port of Taranto on august 1940.

Even if the attack destroyed many capital ships it failed to destroy the carriers (not in port), the most important assets, for a modern naval kind of war, at the time.