By December 7, 1941, Japan had long been a nation at war. Lacking natural resources, Japan looked outward to support its expansionist military exploits. In an attempt to curtail this expansion, the United States had put an embargo on oil exports to Japan. In turn, the Japanese could give either up the territory it had fought for in the past two decades or risk all-out war with the West by seizing American and European territories in the Pacific.
With Japanese representatives in Washington purportedly working towards peace, their military crept ever closer to American-, British- and Dutch-held territory throughout the Pacific. In what was to be a devastating several hours, Japan defied expectations by attacking Pearl Harbor, Wake Island Guam and the Philippines. On December 8, 1941, the day after the series of costly surprise attacks, the US declared war on Japan.