Why did Japan attack the USA?

May 2019
14
greece
This seems mind-bogglingly stupid to me. I understand the us did an embargo on them, and they needed Malaysia and Indonesia to find alternative sources, but why attack the Philipphines? What is to be gained? I find it really doubtful that Roosevelt could have convinced the country to attack Japan for the sake of saving the british and dutch colonial empires. Or at least that's how it would have been seen.
Even if they were scared the united states MIGHT attack them, this is simply a possibility of defeat, whereas attacking them themselves made it a near- certainly. Especially since the outrage over the attach made the public hungry for revenge.
In fact it's a miracle that equally stupid Hitler came to their support, delaying Japan's defeat
 

Edratman

Forum Staff
Feb 2009
6,709
Eastern PA
One look at a map will show the potential threat that any naval forces based in the Philippines pose to the sea lanes between SE Asia and Japan. The Philippines were the objective of the Japanese and the Pearl Harbor attack was merely a tactic towards that objective.
 
Feb 2014
330
Miami
Gross miscalculation. They thought in the way of 19th century war and thought the war would be like the Russo-Japanese war where a humiliating defeat of the fleet will lead to a treaty of peace. It was the one propaganda piece Roosevelt and the USA war machine needed to start the engine that steam rolled the axis.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,733
SoCal
One look at a map will show the potential threat that any naval forces based in the Philippines pose to the sea lanes between SE Asia and Japan. The Philippines were the objective of the Japanese and the Pearl Harbor attack was merely a tactic towards that objective.
So, you don't think that there would have been a Japan-US war had the US not been in the Philippines?
 
Sep 2012
1,172
Tarkington, Texas
The Philippines was a good source of raw materials for Japan. It was a good screen for their Oil Routes from Indonesia and Borneo. People tend to forget that the Delano Family made its fortune trading in China and FDR was very sympathetic.

Pruitt
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,887
The thing about Japan's wars in the period is that it was about China, and it began way earlier than 1939.

By 1941 the Japanese were on a trajectory where the US decision to embargo Japan meant either just dropping everything the Japanese military had spent years investing in its "Chinese project" – meaning an end to the war, but also Japanese military's entire political project coming to a screeching halt – or extending the war, to grab the strategic resources, and beat back the US.

Compared to insta-peace-from-US-oil-embargo it kind of looked more workable for the Japanese generals. It was that or just ditch everything they had spent a decade investing in, uncertain if they would even be able to retain their hold of Japanese society and politics.
 
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May 2019
14
greece
The thing about Japan's wars in the period is that it was about China, and it began way earlier than 1939.

By 1941 the Japanese were on a trajectory where the US decision to embargo Japan meant either just dropping everything the Japanese military had spent years investing in its "Chinese project" – meaning an end to the war, but also Japanese military's entire political project coming to a screeching halt – or extending the war, to grab the strategic resources, and beat back the US.

Compared to insta-peace-from-US-oil-embargo it kind of looked more workable for the Japanese generals. It was that or just ditch everything they had spent a decade investing in, uncertain if they would even be able to retain their hold of Japanese society and politics.
But did the Philippines really have any absolutely necessary supplies that could not be gained from Malaysia and Indonesia?
Yeah, i know it was all about China

By the way what exactly were the US demands ? Did they ask that Japan stop expanding into china? That it surrender some of the territory captures since 1937? That is surrender all of it? That is surrender even Manchuria?
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,887
By the way what exactly were the US demands ? Did they ask that Japan stop expanding into china? That it surrender some of the territory captures since 1937? That is surrender all of it? That is surrender even Manchuria?
Japan was to immediately withdraw from all Chinese territory. And yes, neither China or the US recognized Manchuria as anything other than Chinese territory at the time. Korea they could keep then. Taiwan probably, but a bit more uncertain...