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PrOACT

Problem Definition

Was surprise attacking the United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the best course of action for the Japanese government to take?

Objectives

  1. Deliver a decapitating blow to the the United States Pacific Fleet so that Japan would have the strongest navy in the Pacific and would therefore be uncontested in their Pacific expansion.
  2. Overcome the United States oil embargo by conquering the oil rich Dutch East Indies and Burma.

Alternative Courses of Action

  1. Continue expanding in the Pacific, but no surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
  2. Continue treaty talks and agree to terms with the United States for the removal of troops from China/Manchuria, and no surprise on attack Pearl Harbor.
  3. Withdraw troops from China/Manchuria even without a US-Japan treaty agreed upon, and no surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
  4. Never invading China/Manchuria.
  5. Agree to a US-Japan peace treaty, but still go ahead with surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Consequences

 

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(Original Decision)

Pacific War w/ US

prob

no

prob no

prob

yes

yes

Receive US oil

no

yes

maybe

prob no

no

no

Gather Asian raw materials

yes

no

prob no

maybe

prob no

yes

Decapitating blow to US Pacific Fleet

no

no

no

no

prob

yes

No = 0%
Prob No = 25%
Maybe = 50%
Probably = 75%
Yes = 100%

Japan Money Spent during WWII = $ 40,000,000,000.

US Oil Received from US pre-WWII = 20 mil barrels

Asian raw materials gathered by Japan = 100 mil units

 

Battleships

Cruisers

Destroyers

Other Ships

Aircraft

Pre Pearl Harbor Attack

8

8

30

49

390

Post Pearl Harbor Attack

0

5

27

45

120

#Ships Lost

8

3

3

4

188

 

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(Original Decision)

Money Spent during Pacific War

$30 billion

$ 0

$20 billion

$30 billion

$40 billion

$40 billion

US oil received

0 barrels

20 mil barrels

10 mil barrels

5 mil barrels

0 barrels

0 barrels

Asian raw materials gathered

100 mil units

0 units

25 mil units

50 mil units

25 mil units

100 mil units

Decapitating blow to US Pacific Fleet

8 battleships, 8 cruisers, 30 destroyers, 49 other ships, 390 aircraft

8 battleships, 8 cruisers, 30 destroyers, 49 other ships, 390 aircraft

8 battleships, 8 cruisers, 30 destroyers, 49 other ships, 390 aircraft

8 battleships, 8 cruisers, 30 destroyers, 49 other ships, 390 aircraft

2 battleships, 6 cruisers, 28 destroyers, 46 other ships, 249 aircraft

0 battleships, 5 cruisers, 27 destroyers, 45 other ships, 120 aircraft

Trade-Offs

$10 mil = -3 mil barrels = +18 mil units = -2 battleships, -1 cruiser, -2 destroyers, -2 other ships, -70 aircraft

 

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(Original Decision)

Money Spent during Pacific War

$40 billion

$ 40 billion

$40 billion

$40 billion

$40 billion

$40 billion

US oil received

-3 mil barrels

8 mil barrels

4 mil barrels

2 mil barrels

0 barrels

0 barrels

Asian raw materials gathered

118 mil units

72 units

61 mil units

68 mil units

25 mil units

100 mil units

Decapitating blow to US Pacific Fleet

6 battleships, 7 cruisers, 28 destroyers, 47 other ships, 320 aircraft

0 battleships, 4 cruisers, 24 destroyers, 41 other ships, 110 aircraft

4 battleships, 6 cruisers, 26 destroyers, 45 other ships, 250 aircraft

6 battleships, 7 cruisers, 28 destroyers, 47 other ships, 320 aircraft

2 battleships, 6 cruisers, 28 destroyers, 46 other ships, 249 aircraft

0 battleships, 5 cruisers, 27 destroyers, 45 other ships, 120 aircraft

Correct Decision

Based on the trade-off scenario above the appropriate course of action for Japan was their
Original Decision (Continue to occupy China/Manchuria and surprise attack the U.S. Pacific Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor). When all courses of action are placed on the same playing field in monetary terms, it is evident that the Original Decision is the course of action that satisfies the Objectives the best. It delivers the decapitating blow to the Naval Fleet and it was very close to obtaining the second objective of collecting the most oil and natural resources.

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