A primary source by Hirohito, Emperor of Japan

Declaration of War against the United States and Britain [in Japanese], December 8, 1941. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)On December 7, 1941, two hours after the Japanese attack on American military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japan declared war on the United States and Great Britain, marking America’s entry into World War II. The Japanese government had originally intended to deliver the declaration thirty minutes before the attack, but the Japanese embassy in Washington took too long to decode the 5,000-word document.

The declaration read, in part, that Japanese “officers and men of our army and navy will concentrate their strength in engaging in battles, the members of our government will endeavor to carry out their assigned duties, our subjects throughout the empire will employ full strength to perform their respective tasks. Thus uniting one hundred million hearts and discharging the fullest strength of the nation, we expect all our subjects to strive to attain the ultimate objective of this expedition.” It was printed on the front page of Japanese newspapers on December 8, 1941, and again on the 8th of every month until the end of the war.

This copy of the declaration of war folds into an original blue cloth box imprinted with the document’s title.

A full translation is available.

Excerpt

We, the Emperor of Japan, having acceded to the throne of the unbroken line of emperors which is for ages eternal, with the divine providence of the heavenly god, hereby proclaim unto our loyal and valorous subjects:

That we, the emperor, have now declared war upon the United States of America and Great Britain. The officers and men of our army and navy will concentrate their strength in engaging in battles, the members of our government will endeavor to carry out their assigned duties, our subjects throughout the empire will employ full strength to perform their respective tasks. Thus uniting one hundred million hearts and discharging the fullest strength of the nation, we expect all our subjects to strive to attain the ultimate objective of this expedition.

Questions for Discussion

Full content is available to our community and Affiliate School members only. To view it, please apply for your school to be an Affiliate School, sign up to be a community member, or log in.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to edit your profile and indicate this, giving you free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Add comment

Login or register to post comments