Attack on Pearl Harbor

military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack by Japan against the neutral United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941. It led the United States into World War II. Japan was planning a war in Southeast Asia, against Britain and the Netherlands, as well as the U.S. in the Philippines. All these countries refused to sell petroleum and other war supplies that Japan needed for the Second Sino-Japanese War. Japan attacked so that the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which was a collection of ships that the United States could use in a war, would not enter that war.

Attack on Pearl Harbor
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
Attack on Pearl Harbor Japanese planes view.jpg
Photograph from a Japanese plane of Battleship Row at the beginning of the attack. The explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on the USS Oklahoma. Two attacking Japanese planes can be seen: one over the USS Neosho and one over the Naval Yard.
DateDecember 7, 1941
Primarily Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, United States

American tactical and strategic victory[1]

  • United States declares war on the Empire of Japan
  • Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declare war on the United States.
United States United States of America Empire of Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States Husband Kimmel
United States Walter Short
Empire of Japan Chuichi Nagumo
Empire of Japan Isoroku Yamamoto
8 battleships,
8 cruisers,
30 destroyers,
4 submarines,
49 other ships,[2]
~390 aircraft
Mobile Unit:
6 aircraft carriers,
2 battleships,
2 heavy cruisers,
1 light cruiser,
9 destroyers,
8 tankers,
23 fleet submarines,
5 midget submarines,
414 aircraft
Casualties and losses
4 battleships sunk,
4 battleships damaged including 1 run aground
2 destroyers sunk, 1 damaged
1 other ship sunk, 3 damaged
3 cruisers damaged[nb 1]

188 aircraft destroyed
155 aircraft damaged,
2,335 military killed
1,247 military wounded
68 civilians killed
35 civilians wounded[4][5]
4 midget submarines sunk,
1 midget submarine run aground,
29 aircraft destroyed,
55 airmen killed
9 submariners killed
1 submariner captured[6]
  1. Unless otherwise stated, all vessels listed were salvageable.[3]

The attack was made up of two aerial attack waves (the third canceled) totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers. Their commander was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. 2,390 people died in the attack.[7]

All the eight American battleships in the harbor were sunk, along with several other ships. USS Arizona (BB-39) exploded; the other battleships were later refloated. The three American aircraft carriers (Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga) were elsewhere. Hundreds of aircraft were destroyed and shore installations were slightly damaged. Japan declared war on the United States the same day.

After the attackEdit

The next day, United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech to Congress. In his speech, President Roosevelt said that December 7 was "a date which will live in infamy". Most Americans listened to the speech on the radio.[8] A few minutes after the speech ended, Congress voted to declare war on Japan. Only one member of Congress, Jeanette Rankin, voted "no". Three days later, Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States.

Rumors started blaming Italian, German, and Japanese Americans for knowing about the attacks ahead of time and even helping.[9] Many American citizens became afraid of Italian, German and Japanese Americans because Germany and Italy were allied to Japan. As a result, 110,000 Japanese Americans 31,000 German Americans and 3,000 Italian Americans were sent to internment camps starting in 1942. The government made the father of a famous baseball player, Joe di Maggio, move from the West coast because he was an Italian immigrant. Some Italian, German and Japanese Americans were interned as late as 1944. The government apologized for doing this to the Japanese Americans in 1988. German Americans and Italian Americans have never received an apology.

After the war, Japanese leaders who ordered the attack were tried for a war crime.

Related pagesEdit

Other websitesEdit


  1. Weinberg, Gerhard L. (2005). A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II Second Edition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-521-61826-7.
  2. Ships present at Pearl Harbor 0800 December 7, 1941 US Navy Historical Center
  3. CinCP report of damage to ships in Pearl Harbor from
  4. Conn 2000, p. 194
  5. GPO 1946, pp. 64–65
  6. Gilbert 2009, p. 272.
  7. "USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL: Remembrance". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  8. Cagle, Jess. "The Big Broadcast | News |". Entertainment Weekly's Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  9. "Pearl Harbor > World War II & Roundup | Exploring JAI". Archived from the original on May 26, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010.