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Pearl Harbor: Timeline stop: Fall, 1941 War Warning
In late 1941 Japanese army general Hideki Tojo became the nation's prime minister. A determined leader, Tojo was not afraid to challenge Britain and the U.S. for power in East Asia. The Tojo government leaned toward the navy's approach. Japan began planning for surprise attacks all across the Pacific -- from Hong Kong to Hawaii.

Attacking Pearl Harbor was one of the riskiest operations in military history. The brilliant Admiral Isoroku Yamamato made a plan. Japanese forces, centered around four aircraft carriers, would have to assemble at a remote north Japanese island and then cross thousands of miles of ocean to Hawaii--in secret.

Japanese and American Diplomats
Even as they prepared for war, the Japanese continued to negotiate for a better economic agreement with the U.S. Two Japanese diplomats, Kichasaburo Nomura and Saburo Kurusu, met with U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull throughout the fall of 1941. But little progress was made towards a peaceful solution to the growing conflict between the two nations.

Meanwhile, after years of work, American military intelligence broke several important Japanese naval and diplomatic communications codes. From decoded documents, it became obvious that Japan was planning a major military strike somewhere in the Pacific. Still, it wasn't clear when or where the attack would come. The Philippines seemed the most likely target. No one thought the Japanese would be bold enough to strike all the way to Hawaii.

The first ships of the Japanese task force left their base in the Kurile Islands on November 26. The following day a message went out to American generals and admirals in Hawaii, the Philippines, and the Panama Canal Zone: "Consider this dispatch a war warning."

Negotiate - to bargain or discuss something so that you can come to an agreement.

Diplomat - a person who represents his or her country's government in a foreign country.

Dispatch - a message or report.

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