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Japan’s Motives for Bombing Pearl Harbor, 1941

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Most U.S. History textbooks offer students only a cursory explanation of Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor. While there is no single correct or simple reason for the attack, this lesson should help students realize that Japan’s motivation for attacking Pearl Harbor was driven by its political self-interests, its scarcity of economic resources and perceived opportunity costs, and America’s embargo policy. It should also become apparent to students that long-term as well as short-term events soured relations between Japan and America.