Why didn't Japan invade Hawaii immediately after Pearl Harbor?


Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
Amelia, Virginia, USA
They couldn’t do everything at once, and the point of the war was the resources in Southeast Asia, so that’s what they used the forces on.
Even if they did want to, it would have been nearly impossible to take and hold. They’re too far from Japan and Japan lacked the shipping to keep an army/navy/Air Force supplied that far away.
Closer to major US bases on the West coast than to Japan means the US has an easier time fighting in the area.
There’s nothing worth the expense, except to keep them from the US, and that would be very difficult and costly at best.
Oct 2016
botully pretty much nailed it.
lots of Japanese officers didn't want to invade Midway due to distance/logistics.
no way they could have deployed (and maintained) sufficient forces to Hawaii.


Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
Stockport Cheshire UK
The attack on the fleet and air facilities was at the edge of Japanese logistic capabilities, they did not have the ability to launch and support an invasion of the size required to overcome the US army garrison on the Islands
Likes: Futurist


Forum Staff
Feb 2009
Eastern PA
Japan's objective in December 1941 was the oil-rich Dutch Indies. All the other Japanese military operations conducted in early December were to secure the flanks of the shipping lanes between SE Asia and the home islands.

The Malaysia invasion was a campaign to capture Singapore, the strongest naval base in the region. The Philippines are located right on the shipping lanes between SE Asia and Japan and it was absolutely militarily essential to the entire Japanese war effort to keep the US from relocating the Pacific fleet to the Philippines. The tactics chosen were to invade the Philippines and destroy the US Pacific fleet at its base in Hawaii. There were several other lesser military operations also conducted at the same time for tactical and strategic purposes.

Japan did not have to resources to spare to also invade Oahu at the same time. Not even close. Nor could an invasion be resupplied and sustained. The US had about 100,000 military personnel based on Oahu, making an invasion a totally unimaginable feat to Japanese planners.

I have read of a viable conjecture that it would have been possible for Japan to capture the island of Kauai, after destroying the Pacific fleet, and offload all the carrier based planes onto the island. Kauai had a defense force numbering about 1000 men, so that sounds doable. The Japanese would only hold onto Kauai for a very short time, say a month or three. During this period Japan could have bombed the base at Pearl Harbor into rubble and then bring their carriers back to return the planes and personnel to some other place of need. This may not have been within the available resource pool for Japan, but if it did happen it would have removed Pearl Harbor from the board for two or three years. This would not have altered the balance of power in the least, but could have bought time, and who knows what time could bring.
Apr 2018
If Japan could get Halsey's carriers
This would not have altered the balance of power in the least, but could have bought time, and who knows what time could bring.
Nimitz's lack of sleep would have turned into full blown insomnia.
Ghormley would have been a bit more comfortable in San Diego.
Fletcher would have had no carriers to worry about.
Halsey would have been recruited and then promoted as Captain of the Flying Dutchman.
Marshall would have started picking off dead woods from the National Guards.
Vandegrift would had more or less the same work to do, only in this case Hawaii instead of Guadalcanal.
I have no idea what McArthur would have done.
King would have bearhugged someone to death. Thank God not FDR.

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