This Day in the Law
November 3

Top Secret Japanese Order Mandates Bombing of Pearl Harbor (1941)

On November 3, 1941, Hideki Tojo, the minister of war in Japan, issued Top-Secret Operations Order No. 1, which required the Combine Japanese Fleet to bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th of that year.

Just two months prior, in September 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, issued a statement indicating that war between the United States and Japan would be inevitable if the Japanese occupied any further territory south or east of Japan in the South Pacific. This statement, which was primarily penned by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England, was treated as a challenge by Hideki Tojo. The challenge, in his interpretation, was a challenge to go to war with the United States. It was from this statement that Top-Secret Operations Order No. 1 was put in place, with the goal being that Japan would make the first serious move in the direction of war by bombing Pearl Harbor.

And so the order was issued, and on December 7, 1941, the Japanese fleets bombed Pearl Harbor, and the United States’ role in World War II officially began.