Joint Base Pearl Harbor-hickam, HI

What Happened Immediately After Japan Attacked the Pearl Harbor?

Aerial Photo Taken of the Pearl Harbor AttackPhoto byWikimedia Commons

After decades of worsening relations between Japan and America, the final attack occurred on December 7, 1941, when Japan made a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Things had not been going well for the U.S. and Japan relations before, too, but this attack marked Japan's first aerial attack and gave way to America's participation in World War II. 

Japan Attacked Without Informing, Catching US Off-Guard and Making it Impossible to Strike Back

The first attack happened at 7:55 AM (local time) and included several aircraft, bombers, and fighters descending the U.S. base. The U.S. army had little time to recover, and most of its defense strategies could not work out, causing severe damage to the U.S. 

Additionally, Japan also attacked U.S. ships sitting in the harbor. Japan had chosen the perfect time for its surprise attack- Sunday morning. The U.S. army was severely ill-equipped at that time with a shortage of personnel. Hence, most of the damage was caused in the first 30 minutes of the attack. Before the U.S. could comprehend the situation and take measures, most of its troops and fleet were gone. Then came the second series of attacks, not as successful as the first but still causing considerable damage to the U.S.

The Attack Caused a Major He Did/ She Did Blame Game

However, what happened after the attack is of much more significance than what happened during it. The U.S. army was severely hampered after the attack. The unpreparedness of the naval base was highly criticized and opened many formal investigation cases. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a new committee to find out the shortcomings of the U.S. during the attack and how the damage could have been minimized. Additionally, the two central officers of the American army, Kimmel and Short, were dismissed effective immediately, causing some significant changes in the formation of the military departments. The two officials were accused of “dereliction of duty" by the committee for not taking enough responsive measures timely. 

Some other people blamed the intelligence forces for the attack, saying they could have been better equipped if they had foreseen an attack. It should not be forgotten that the attack happened during negotiations for a peace treaty. 

After the long blame game, the efforts were deemed unfruitful. The two officers did not face severe repercussions and were eventually acquitted by the senate. 

It Gave Rise to Anti-Japanese Sentiments

After the attack, the already hampered image of Japanese, American-Japanese, and Asians was tarnished. The Japanese deemed the attack a sneaky and treacherous act, and everyone remotely related to the country had to face the enormous hate and the after-effects of the mainly one-sided war. This caused great hostility, anger, and racism in the country. 

The U.S. Recovered Soon Afterward

Even though Japan did significant damage, the U.S. took little time to recover from the incident. All except the Arizona and Oklahoma of the eight battleships were eventually repaired and put back into action. Additionally, the Japanese could not destroy the island's crucial oil storage facilities. It also unified the U.S. citizens. The president termed this unfortunate event a "date which will live in infamy.” Any possibility of diplomatic relations and a peace treaty between the countries ended after the attack. 

Historians consider the Attack on Pearl Harbor a highly significant event in American history as it was the first time after 1812 that a foreign country had attacked the U.S. in such strength and had caused sizable damage to the mighty nation. Such destruction could only be seen 60 years later during the unfortunate September 11 attack. 

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