- President Roosevelt had banned all exports of scrap iron, steel and oil to Japan. The reason for the embargo was the Japanese invasion of China. Japan had lost more than 90% of its oil supply. The economic isolation crippled their economy and military.
- America had not yet entered the Second World War, because they were still reeling from depression due to the First World War. America did, however, still possess the strongest naval fleets. In that perspective, the Japanese were almost as strong as the American navy. As time passed, America favored more and more towards joining the war. The Japanese anticipated a full-blown naval war with America and therefore, decided to act first by bombing Pearl harbor.
- Speculations also include the Japanese wanting to be a naval superpower and wanting to destroy any competition, including American and British naval fleets.
- The United States wanted Japan to withdraw from northern Indo-China.
- The U.S. opposed Japanese expansion and Japan's demands were not being achieved by diplomacy.
- The Japanese were keen on expanding their empire and had to make a decision between surrendering or going to war with the United States.
- They wanted the U.S. to acquiesce to their expansion into Asia.
- Pearl Harbor was the home of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Japan did not want the U.S. in the war because at that time, the United States of America had the greatest Naval force. They concluded that if the Pacific Fleet was destroyed, Americans would feel demoralized and not want to fight.
- The Japanese believed that they could defeat the United States. They convinced themselves that a devastating attack would dishearten the Americans and lead to cracks in the fabric of the American society that would threaten its stability.
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