After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the US entered World War II. However, there were actually several reasons why Japan attacked America.
Part of the problem was economic. Japan’s population was expanding at a rapid rate. The food supply in the country was not enough. What compounded the problem was the Great Depression in the US. Most of their exports were sent there, and when demand dropped the Japanese economy suffered. Although there were peace advocates too, most of the politicians there felt that expanding their territory was the only way forward.
The American Embargo
The acts of aggression commenced in 1931 when they occupied Manchuria in China. They also took over Indochina and other lands. Part of the reason why Japan attacked America had to do with the embargo. Because Britain and her allies were fighting Hitler in Europe, they could not protect their colonies.
Together with the United States they chose to set an embargo. These included stopping all shipment of steel and oil. These dealt serious blows to the reeling economy. In 1941 the Japanese decided to take over the oil fields in the Dutch East Indies. The only problem was the US Naval fleet stationed in the Pacific. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Alliance with Germany
Some historians point out that a conflict between the two nations was inevitable. In September 1940, Japan entered into a defensive treaty with Italy and Germany. The US meanwhile signed the Lend Lease Act with Britain in 1941. So one reason why Japan attacked America was that it was already allied with Germany before the attack on Pearl Harbor took place.
War was Inevitable
There are some who believe that the Pearl Harbor bombing happened because the leadership felt war was unavoidable. The oil and trade embargo and the pressure on the US to help Britain were just among the signs.
When the Japanese took over parts of China, President Roosevelt made no secret of his displeasure. Fearful that the US might protect the other European colonies, they decided to attack first. From this viewpoint, the reason why Japan attacked America was to make sure they get to strike first in an inevitable war.
Conquest of Asia
The other reason suggested is that they wanted to do in Asia what Hitler was doing in Europe. During the 1930s the Japanese navy was the mightiest in the Pacific. Its officials knew that the Europeans wouldn’t be able to protect their colonies. America had returned to its policy of isolation. In addition she was in the grips of the Great Depression.
If Hitler was succeeding in Europe, there seemed little doubt they could do the same in Asia. The only thing standing in the way were the US forces in Pearl Harbor.
The reasons why Japan attacked America were numerous and complex. There’s actually some debate still ongoing. But one thing is clear; it changed the course of history and if it hadn’t happened, the outcome of World War II may have been different.