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The assault on Pearl Harbor was a terrible event in American history. President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, "a date that will live in infamy." On that day, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor and killed more than 2,300 Americans throughout the attack. The attack took the USA by surprise and especially the undefended naval base. There were lots of factors that played a part in the assault, for example why Japan believed they needed to attack, how they could attain surprise, and the harm they inflicted on the American fleet. In 1937 Japan declared war on China in an effort to address economic problems. They had a lengthy an unsuccessful effort until 1940 when they allied themselves with the axis forces. In reaction to these attempts the United States cut off all trade to japan which included all of their essential resources like oil and coal. Their aim was to force japan to stop their expansion due to the dearth of gear, yet the reverse happened making them more determined than ever. Both governments negotiated for months but neither side would perish, making war inevitable. No one anticipated japan to strike Pearl Harbor due to their 4,000 mile gap between the two islands. Considering that Americans were convinced that they would attack an outpost in Europe they abandoned Pearl Harbor virtually undefended. They had the whole pacific naval fleet moored around Ford Island in the harbor and the aircraft were all squeezed onto small adjacent airfields, making it ideal for the Japanese to make a surprise attack. But even with all these perfect conditions japan needed to ensure they'd attain surprise. In an effort to do this, throughout their training and preparation the Japanese were.