December 7th, 1941 was a date that was destined to go down in infamy the moment the Japanese dropped the first bomb on Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu. You may already know that over 2,000 American servicemen died in the attack and that it led to the entire country being thrust into World War II, but did you know that not all Japanese officers were in favor of the attack? Or that it’s possible Franklin Roosevelt was aware of the possibility of a Pacific sneak attack from Japan?
The events surrounding Pearl Harbor may be well known, but there are always little hidden factoids that get lost in history, such as these bits of information you may not know about the Pearl Harbor attack.
The Attack May Not Have Been a Surprise
Civilians and military personnel on Oahu and at Pearl Harbor were definitely taken by surprise when the Japanese flew in and started bombing the installation, but there is a widespread theory that the United States government was well aware of Japan’s intentions. Known as the Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory, it presumes that United States intelligence was able to crack Japanese code, giving access to attack plans and the United States pressured Japan into attacking.
One of the more compelling pieces of evidence used in support of the theory is a declassified memo dated December 4th, 1941. In it, Hawaii was noted as a “Point of Attack” for the Japanese military. The theory also claims that, whether or not the US government knew outright, it certainly did ignore plenty of red flags.
Japanese Officers Opposed the Pearl Harbor Attack
For some Japanese military leaders, it wasn’t so much about not wanting to awaken the American military as it was about utilizing their resources properly. While Admiral Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet, worked on the plan to attack, chief of the Naval General Staff, Admiral Nagano, was against the idea. Concerned about Japan’s air power, Nagano was against sacrificing the entire carrier force in Pearl Harbor, especially at a time when attacks against Malaya and the Philippines were already planned.
To gain approval for the use of six carriers, Yamamoto had to threaten to resign.
A Final Resting Place
Even though they survived World War II and the Pearl Harbor attack, many former crewmen of the USS Arizona have made the sunken vessel their final resting place. Wishing to be with the comrades they lost, at least 30 of the 355 survivors have requested to be interred in the wreckage.
Burial at the wreckage follows a military funeral and is performed by Navy divers, who take the urn of ashes and deposit it in one of the vessel’s gun turrets.
There is No Grudge
A fun little tidbit of uplifting information: neither the United States nor Japan’s government seem to hold a grudge for the attack. In fact, Japanese tourists make up the largest demographic of international tourism to Hawaii. On top of enjoying the tropical location of the islands, these travelers are known to pay their respects at the Pearl Harbor memorials.
Japanese tourism to Hawaii is so abundant that it is one of the largest sources of income for Hawaii’s economy.