HISTORY OF JAPAN
HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF JAPAN'S MILITARY AGGRESSION ©
How deeply ingrained militarism, aggressive nationalism, and a denial of genuine democracy laid the foundations for Japan's military aggression.
George Santayana, Spanish-American philosopher 1863-1952
Text and Web-site by James Bowen, Convener, Pacific War Historical Society. Web-site established May 2002 and last updated 14 May 2010.
On 7 December 1941, Japanese carrier-launched aircraft struck a devastating blow at the United States Pacific Fleet anchored at its Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii. There was no prior declaration of war, and this surprise attack brought the United States into World War II.
A samurai warrior of Japan's ruling military caste wipes blood from his sword blade after a battle. The painting by an unknown artist dates from the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
Until 1853, Japan had been a country almost completely closed to contact with Western countries. At that time, it did not possess any heavy manufacturing industries, steam engines, railways, or telegraphic communication, and the traditional weapons of war of its samurai military caste were the sword, the bow, and obsolete muzzle-loading cannon. How could Japan achieve in the short space of eighty-eight years the technological ability to cross half the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii on 7 December 1941 and launch a devastating surprise air attack on the fleet, army and air force of the greatest industrial power in the world? To understand how this was possible, it is necessary to know something of Japan's history prior to and after 1853.
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