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Pearl Harbor: Timeline stop: 1940 The Tripartite Pact
Japan responded to America's actions by joining Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the Tripartite (three-part) Pact. In this agreement, the two European dictators approved Japan's goal for an Asian empire. The three countries pledged to support one another if any one of them was attacked by the U.S.

President Roosevelt answered this challenge by seizing Japanese money and property in the U.S. and placing an embargo on exports of oil, steel, and iron to Japan. Great Britain and the Netherlands, who had colonies in East Asia, also cut off exports of oil to Japan.

Signing of Tripartite Pact
Japan felt it had to act. Without oil and metal, Japan couldn't continue the war in China, let alone win the Pacific empire its military rulers craved. The nation would have to go to war to seize these resources. But war against whom? The army wanted to attack the Soviet Union, which was fighting a war against Nazi Germany. The navy favored seizing the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), British Malaysia, and the American Philippines. For the navy's plan to succeed, however, it would first have to destroy the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, which was based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Pearl Harbor Activity Station

In 1940, did Americans have any idea that Japan was considering attacking their country? Did they think the naval base at Pearl Harbor was in any danger?

Check the eyewitness interview to see what they thought. Or, ask a friend or relative who lived through Pearl Harbor about what Americans thought at the time. Did they expect Japan to attack?

Embargo - an official order forbidding something from happening, especially trade.

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