In a second wave of the attack, battleship USS Nevada was struck by several bombs and the USS Pennsylvania was set ablaze. The destroyer USS Shaw exploded.
In little more than an hour, the Japanese had inflicted about 3,400 casualties to military personnel, including more than 2,300 dead. They devastated the battleship fleet and the flying assets of the Army and Navy, at a cost to the Japanese Empire of fewer than 100 men, five midget submarines, fewer than 60 airplanes and one fleet submarine.
The start of the war was less distinct for others.
Origins of the Pacific War
“From the Chinese perspective, before Pearl Harbor, China had fought a war [against Japan] in isolation,” said Xiaoyuan Liu, David Dean 21st Century Professor of Asian Studies and professor of history at the University of Virginia. “China was waiting for the international community or the Western powers to join the fight against Japan. But Pearl Harbor invited America to participate in this war that had been limited to the Asian continent, and it became an Asian-Pacific conflict.”
How long the Chinese had been fighting in isolation is open to interpretation. The conventional, and still generally accepted date for the start of China’s war with Japan is July 7, 1937, but recently China has set the date at 1931, when Japanese soldiers took over Manchuria (modern-day Northeast China).
“Sept. 18, 1931 was the day that some low-ranking Japanese officers engineered the so-called ‘Mukden incident,’ so the Japanese used this as an excuse to start occupation of Manchuria,” Liu said. “The Chinese government at the time thought it was not yet the time to fight the Japanese and they wanted international intervention to push Japan out, but the League of Nations did not do much.
“The Chinese Communist Party now claims that right after this incident, a local spontaneous resistance began under the Chinese Communist leadership. This way the Chinese Communist Party claims a historical legitimacy, saying China’s war of resistance against Japan started under the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership.”