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On December 7, 1941, the Japanese commenced a seemingly unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor, the main United States naval base in the Western Pacific. The attack came as a huge surprise because of its unexpected nature; Japanese envoys were in Washington the week of the attack itself. Immediately after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a joint session of Congress and asked for a declaration of war on Japan, which he received the next day (December 8, 1941). However, elements within the United States armed forces believed it was possible that Japan was planning a major bombardment against Hawaii, but did not adequately prepare for it. Their decision to focus their defenses upon the Philippines, at the time a U.S. colonial possession, caused Hawaii to be overlooked as a potential weak spot in the American Pacific defense.
Much of the intelligence and strategic planning undertaken by the Americans took place during the 1930s, while the Japanese were fighting in China...
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