Taken by surprise
The similarity of the events of September 11 this year and December 7,1941 was that the U.S. was taken by surprise. At Pearl Harbour, however, Japanese pilots did not hurl themselves at their targets, the way the terrorists did in Washington and New York. Of the 360 planes that took part in the action at Pearl Harbour, 29 were lost.
Even more dramatic than the way two airplanes were deliberately steered into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11 was the way the whole thing was caught live on cameras and broadcast worldwide, over and over again - thus reviving memories of the surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbour, in December 1941.
Two things these events did have in common. The startled surprise, and the fact that each was the first ever attack by aliens on U.S. territory, off and on the mainland respectively. At Pearl Harbour, however, Japanese pilots did not hurl themselves at their targets, the way the terrorists did on September 11. Only 29 Japanese planes were lost, of the 360 or so that took part in the action.
Kamikaze tactics were begun only in 1944, in an (unsuccessful) effort to prevent the near total destruction of the Japanese navy at the Battle of Leyte Gulf; and, with its navy now wiped out, repeated in a big way a few months later, in an (unsuccessful) attempt to prevent the landing of US soldiers at Okinawa.
The planes used in these attacks were lighter, smaller, of the bottom -of- the -barrel variety. They were therefore fitted with extra fuel tanks to enhance the impact of the crash. Some planes had "piloted" missiles strapped on outside, in addition to the pilots strapped in inside. Dropped from a height of about 7.5 km, while yet 50 km away, the missiles would glide to within kms of their targets before the pilots fired the three rocket engines to close in for the kill at almost 1000 km per hour.
But let's leave this spectacular stuff aside, and turn to the history behind Pearl Harbour. Basically, the attack on Pearl Harbour can be traced back to the 1850s, when Commodore Perry used a small American fleet to force Japan to open its doors to trade. This caused a serious loss of face, and struck the deathblow, to the inward-looking Tokugawa Shogunate. Shocked at how far it had fallen behind the rest of the civilised world, Japan now began a massive programme of modernisation with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. As this effort to emulate the Great Powers, scientifically, technologically, militarily, gained momentum, so did Japan's desire to spread its wings; to have colonies of its own - like the Dutch, the French, and of course the British, who had an empire so vast that, on it, the sun never set. And so, one fine day, in 1937, Japan marched into China.
This caused the U.S. to impose ever stricter sanctions on Japan, including an embargo on the supply of oil - of which Japan had none of its own. Pearl Harbour was an effort by Japan to free itself from this cage. The options are always limited : phoonkh de pinjara, pankh jalaa de, or pinjara le kar ud jaa panchhi.
To cut a long story short, the main reason for Pearl Harbour was that, by the time Japan began trying to acquire colonies of its own, the business had already gone out of fashion..
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