“… a remarkable achievement.… The footage is fresh, the pace such that even viewers used to this history are likely to find themselves watching with racing hearts."

– Dorothy Rabinowitz
The Wall Street Journal

George Foster Peabody Award


This unusual co-production of NHK (Japanese) television and ABC News was undertaken for the 50th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - a historic event seen very differently by the American and Japanese people. David Brinkley anchored for ABC News.

An exhaustive joint research effort dug deeply into film, photo, audio and document archives in both Japan and the United States. The NHK team worked in Japan, interviewing Japanese navy and air force veterans who took part in the attack, as well as key Japanese political and diplomatic figures and journalists. The ABC team undertook the same research for on the American side.

The resulting documentary includes the full sweep of a story that brought the United States into World War II - escalating tensions in the Pacific, Japanese war preparations, and American complacency before the attack; the recollections of the fighter pilots as they approached Pearl Harbor and their exhilaration as they released their bombs. Americans stationed in Hawaii were surprised, angry, and ultimately powerless to defend themselves.

Aired on ABC and NHK (Japan) in 1991.