In reports of the action at Pearl Harbor, numerous Americans declared their belief that the aircraft that attacked were piloted by Germans. This was an expression of their firm idea that Japanese airmen were of inferior ability. The Americans were not alone in this prejudice; the British also discounted reports from China of Japanese prowess, attributing their success to yet greater Chinese incompetence. The surprise achieved on 7 December was the result, in large measure, of assuming that men of the caliber of Commander Mitsuo Fuchida (Fuchida, Mitsuo) and Commander Minoru Genda (Genda, Minoru) did not exist in Japan.
You can find out more about Japanese airmen in World War II in the following Osprey books: