Relations between the United States and Japan more than 70 years ago were so bad that they changed the course of history since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945. Four years after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor sent the U.S. into World War II, it was reported only a week later that Japan would surrender. 

America’s goal wasn’t just to make peace and rebuild Japan after the war. The process of getting along was challenging from the start. Faced with a new world order, the US  tried to make the small but historically powerful Pacific island nation its Asian defense against the spread of communism. To do this, the Americans learned much from what happened after World War I. They used the Japanese people’s dire economic situation and disappointment with their government and military to implement democracy and change their Constitution. 

World War II
A view shows a barge that was sunk by WWII American bombing in 1944 while preventing retreat of the German army, that re-emerged due to severe drought from the River Po in Gualtieri, Italy on June 15, 2022. – According to the river observatory, the drought affecting Italy’s longest river Po is the worst in the last 70 years. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP) (Photo by PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP via Getty Images)

But things are very different now. The Japanese government’s yearly Cabinet Office study showed that 84% of Japanese people feel “close” to the U.S., and a Gallup poll showed that 87% of Americans have a favorable view of Japan. 

How Japan Brought the US Into World War II

Japan’s deadly attack on Pearl Harbor shocked not only Americans but also the rest of the world. However, historians traced back the roots caused back more than 40 years. As Japan became more developed at the end of the 19th century, it tried to be like the United States and the rest of the Western countries, which had set up bases in Asia and the Pacific to access natural resources and markets for their goods. On the other hand, Japan’s global growth brought it into conflict with the U.S., especially regarding China.

Historians explained that World War II can be traced back to when the Japanese army invaded Manchuria in 1931. However, the World War II National Museum mentioned that two things partly caused the war between the U.S. and Japan. These are the Chinese markets and natural resources in Asia. 

Japan started as a power that took over the land in a small way. Japan next took over a few groups of small islands near its home country without having to fight for them. It moved slowly because its modern ships and army were still in their early stages.

On November 26, 1941, U.S. officials gave the Japanese a 10-point statement reaffirming their long-held stance. At the same time, the Japanese Imperial Navy sent out a fleet of 414 planes on six aircraft carriers toward Hawaii. The flotilla aimed to eradicate the US Pacific Fleet base at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, who had studied at Harvard and worked as Japan’s navy attaché in Washington, DC, had devised the plan.