To what extent was the desire of Japan to achieve economic dominance in East Asia: the main reason that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor
The reasons for Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and its ambitions on the Asia-Pacific region can be seen in the long-term history of Japan. As can be seen in the history no war would happen due to a single reason. Same to this Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had several reasons and they can be categorized into four main reasons. These are historical perspectives, economical, political and military reasons.
To start with the historical reason, as can be seen in the previous history Japan was a really aggressive country. Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan already had a lot argument with USA during the conference of Washington (1921-1922) which had the main goal of reallocation the collies for those empires in Far East and on Pacific. The goal of this conference was inline with the Paris peace conference. Although Paris peace conference had mitigate the relationship between imperialism country and western country, but it had a lot of serious argument on the Far East and Pacific, especially between USA and Japan. The conference of Washington tries to solve the problem that Versailles dose not solved. For USA the main goal was to limit the development of Japanese army force. Also the treaty of nine countries limited Japan’s advantage of taken all of china for them. In this treaty USA suggest all nine countries to have equal opportunity and open door police on China.
USA was a super powerful country in 19 centuries. During that time the oil supply from USA were 20 times more than the total supply from Japan, Germany and Italy, supply of steel were 2 times more, Thus, if Japan wants to control the Pacific they have to think a smart way of doing this because as can be seen it is extremely hard for Japan to win if they fight USA face to face, so that the best way was attacking Pearl Harbor. On the other side USA also wants the total control of Pacific, the main reason for this was that Japan was too powerful during that period and USA knew that Japan had a huge ambition on it.
As can be seen japan invaded china in September 1931 and cause a huge damage in China . On Japan’s view they want the total country of the pacific, because in their plan the Sino-Japanese war were exceeded the limit, the war had already goes on for over four years, japan had huge amount lacking in their oil supply (only 1.7million tone within the country per year). They need the resources from East Asia, but to do that the first country they have to cross were Philippines. However at that time Philippines were USA’s colonies . So if Japan could take over the total control of pacific it will benefit them by gain more time when they were attacking Philippines.
On the map Pearl harbor is located in Hawaii. Which is an important transportation junction and also one of the most important American naval base. Since 1940,Europeans war totally breakout. Japan were responsible for Asia and they had also include Pacific in to their sphere of influence. if japan wants the total control of pacific, the first thing they have to do is to take over Pearl Harbor. Objectively, USA is the biggest threaten for Japan in this area. Also for Japan they are also worried that Germany may get involved after they took over UK and USSR that may affect Japan’s benefit .
Japan is an island country that makes them really eager for resource. The lack of resources is the weakness for this country. Japan has to import oil and balata from USA to keep their supply for war. USA doesn’t think Japan would stop after they had taken over china, they thought Japan’s final aim was to taken over the Asia to achieve their goal, which were called economic dominance. In July 1940, USA had imposed trade sanctions followed by an embargo aimed at limit Japan’s military aggression in Asia. This movement also made the relationship between USA and Japan even worse. The reason for USA made this sanction was to limit Japan’s aggression in Asia., As a consequence this decision made by USA made Japan step even slower than before because the trade sanction made the lacking resource problem appealed even more. Japan was desperately needed for oil supply but there were only two places to get it, Siberia and the South Pacific. Japanese was going after Siberia but were forced to give up that strategy after the disastrous 1939 Battle of Khalkhin Gol , this battle were between Japan and USSR happened in far east located on the border of Manchu and Mongolia (Japan was defeated).
Another historical reason for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was Sino-Japanese war. The war had continued for four years. Before and during this war, USA knows that Japan will be a big threatens for them. USA had supported china with weapons and resources to help china in the war with Japan. Obviously under this condition Japan won’t have enough resources for them to support a long-term fight thus made them even more seeking for the resources in Southeast Asia. On japan side even thought USA had not involved in to the war directly, but because of all those aids to China, Japan had already declared. USA as their enemy and they thought USA was going to involve in this war.
Second reason for Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was economical reason. Economic was also a very serious problem japan was facing. Before second world war Japan had expanded their domestic construction mostly by the benefit they got from Russo-Japanese War and First Sino-Japanese War . In this war Japan got over 200million sliver and the value of other spoils were about 100million yen. Because of this huge amount of money before 1929(wall street crash), they had developed in an inconceivable speed. During 1914-1922 Japan output of merchant ship had increased from 4.9 tons to 61 tons; this amount rise was exceeded most country in Europe. That make Japan a really confident country before the economic crisis, not only the government but also the entire society had a high standard of living.
The turning point for Japanese economic crisis was the worldwide economic crisis in 1929 which followed by a big earthquake. As can be seen Japan is an island country that made the economic problems appeal even more when wars come During this crisis Japan’s economic dropped dramatically and their population increase which results high unemployment rate and a drop in people’s living standard, thus Japan under that condition urgently needed a solution to remit the pressure on their country.
In 1931 Japan invaded china’s northeast; the target this movement was to make china their colonies so that they can immigrate their people in to china to relief the pressure f their population. There was a huge amount of resources in china for Japan to transit this crisis. Second Sino-Japanese breaks out in 1937 and continues until 1941(before pearl harbor even). This war had goes on for four years that had exceeded Japan estimates on this war. Japan main goal during this was to achieve the economic dominance in East Asia. From the previous war Japan had with china (Manchuria 1931, first Sino-Japanese War) they got the taste of wining, so for this time they also expected a win smoothly, but USA didn’t play a good role to Japan. During this period USA was strongly supported china with huge amounts of money in 1940 and had land over 120 million loan to china (Zhenxi loan, Pingzhunlaon)also USA had formed Flying tigers team in to help china with their air force. Based on those supports from USA until 1941 China had hold this war for four years, although in past four years Chinese had damaged a lot but on Japan side they were also facing huge issue.
In addition, the war between Japan and China during 1937-1941's led to Japan's large oil, rubber, other resources and money consumption. In order to find more strategic resources, especially oil, Japan actively expanded in Southeast Asia [A]. But the Japanese plan to occupy Southeast Asia damaged the United States, Britain, Netherlands’ interests, and the United States was wary of Japan, which had imposed a series of embargoes on Japan. In July 1941, Japan occupied French Indochina, the United States announced to implement economic sanctions towards Japan, freezing all Japan’s property in US, including the implementation of embargo towards oil, rubber iron and steel, as well as other strategic materials. Britain and Netherlands have also followed suit, in this case, it made Japan lose 75 percent of its overseas trade and 90 percent of its oil imports [B], Japan's domestic oil reserves could only be maintained for half a year. On December 7, 1941, in order to invade Southeast Asia to take oil there, which was also to protect the sea access, especially to ensure Japan's unimpeded oil tankers in the sea, Japan attacked the United States’ sea fleet in the Pacific Pearl Harbor.