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Pearl Harbor: An Inevitable Crossroads

A brief presentation about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and how it can be used as a vehicle through which to study the idea of inevitability in history, shown at the National Council of History Educators' annual conference, 2010, in San Diego.

Jeremy Gypton

on 3 December 2013

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Transcript of Pearl Harbor: An Inevitable Crossroads

Pearl Harbor: An
Inevitable Crossroads

A little about me
Ma, Land Warfare, American Military University
MA, Administration, Grand Canyon University
10 years in the classroom
5 years in all-digital, one-to-one school
Long ago decided that history teaching should not take place for its own sake, but for the development of skills & knowledge that are to be applied throughtout life
Our Challenge:
Teach content -- 'stuff'
Teach them thinking skills
What is inevitability?
What makes something inevitable?
(Great opportunity in this for consideration of subtlety and nuanced thinking)
Thinking in Sequence
What are the basic facts?
What are the foundational methods?
What is the most fundamental rationale?
Was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor inevitable?
The Path to War
Arita Hachiro, Minister for Foreign Affairs
1940: Proposes GEACPS
"...all mankind longs for...for world peace...[in order to achieve it, similar peoples] should first form a sphere of their own for coexistence and co-prosperity and establish peace and order within that sphere...It is in this spirit that Japan is now engaged in the task of establishing a new order in East Asia...[t]his system presupposes the existence of a stabilizing force [within each region of the world]...]
Tojo Hideki, (then) War Minister
1940: Tripartite Alliance Pact
...the Governments of Japan, Germany and Italy have resolved to cooperate with each other [in order] to realize the ultimate objective of establishing world peace...[to this end] Japan shall acknowledge and respect the leadership of Germany and Italy in establishing the new order in Europe [and] Germany and Italy shall acknowledge and respect the leadership of Japan in establishing the new order in Greater East Asia.
Japanese Gov't dominated by Army & Militarists
Vision of Co-Prosperity Sphere takes flight in propaganda
'Asia for Asians' really means 'Asia for Japan'
Gov't sees opportunity for expansion after Spring 1940
Atlantic Charter, August 1941
Commits to "destruction of the Nazi tyranny"
World of open trade and free peoples not reconcilable with Japanese actions of the last decade
Liaison Conference, July 1940 -- establishes policy
27 July 1940 -- "The Japanese Empire will strive for the immediate settlement of the China Incident by improving internal and external conditions in keeping with changes in the world situation and, at the same time, will solve the southern area problem by taking advantage of opportunities."
Internal Japanese policy, July 1940: http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/monos/146/146app02.html
Resources: Primary & Secondary
Co-Prosperity Sphere Proposal: http://personal.ashland.edu/~jmoser1/japan/arita.htm
Tripartite Pact: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/PTO/Dip/Tripartite.html
Atlantic Charter: http://www.teachingamericanhistory.com/library/index.asp?document=453
November 1941 Diplomatic Exchanges: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/PTO/Dip/PlanB.html
Detailed Diplomatic/Military Timeline of 1941, with primary source excerpts: http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/timeline/147chap1.html
Ambassador Nomura's 3 September Report
"...great attention must be paid to the fact that the United States is pursuing its established policy without alleviating the economic pressure on Japan in the least. Consequently, if the United States refrains from armed conflict while continuing economic warfare against Japan, it will be able to accomplish the objective of war against Japan without bloodshed. I am sure that its diplomatic policy toward Japan will undergo no change at all unless there is a great political change in the world situation or unless Japan changes its national policy."
Tojo's Thoughts as of 12 October:
"I believe there is no chance of concluding negotiations between the United States and Japan. The greatest difficulty lies in the issue of stationing Japanese troops overseas. Of course it will be solved if we agree to the United States demands."
17/18 October -- a political shuffle
Konoye cabinet resigns
Emperor orders Tojo to form new cabinet
Next 6 weeks sees one belligerent proposal after another; Tojo unwilling to remove troops from China, and is fully engaged in war plans, seeing war as a perfectly viable tool for international relations
Opportunistic View of 'Changing World Situtation'
The elimination of all aid to the Chungking government by third powers.
Adoption of "a firm attitude" toward the United States and, at the same time, the strengthening of political ties with the Axis and a drastic readjustment of relations with Russia.
Stronger diplomatic measures against the Netherlands Indies in order to secure vital raw materials.
Intensification of political, economic, and military preparations for war.
17 NOV: Japanese carriers begin gathering for sortie
19 NOV: Amb. Nomura continues negotiations with USA at his gov'ts request
26 NOV: Carrier strike force sorties for Hawaii
27 NOV: Japanese leadership decides war in inevitable; negotiations between Nomura and Roosevelt gov't continue, mulling diplomatic options
1 DEC: Imperial conference decides on declaration of war vs. USA, Britain, and Holland
Primary Source Jigsaw; couple it with 'codebreaking' simulaton?
Present problem of rationale behind attack; use primary sources to explore and rationalize it from the Japanese perspective
Follow up with counterfactual approach -- what if Japan had concentrated on Asia and had avoided US assets there?
My goal:
Address the concept of 'inevitability' as a learning opportunity in history classes
Use Pearl Harbor as a vehicle to play with the idea
Provide you with facts, documents, resources and ideas for your classroom
Throughout, discuss these things as a group of professionals
Decades of friction
Washington Naval Conference:1921/22...5:5:3
Nine Power Treaty, 1922
Differing views of Japanese control of LoN mandates
1924 Immigration Act -- 2%
CAlaws preventing land ownership and school attendance
Mid 30s assassinations of moderates
ABC-CLIO's United States at War research database:
Contact me: jdgypton@gmail.com
Full transcript