The Japanese Navy in World War II, ed. David C. Evans

The Japanese Navy in World War II, ed. David C. Evans

In the Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers

This fascinating book consists of seventeen articles written by former Japanese naval officers, examining some of the main events of the Pacific War from the point of view the people who were involved on the Japanese side. Almost all of these articles were written by fairly junior officers (the senior admirals tended not to survive their defeats), but also by men who were very close to the action - either the planning, or actually present at the battle in question (including an eyewitness account of the loss of the Yamato). 

One of the more fascinating aspects of the book was the willingness of the Japanese authors to make sweeping generalizations that no western author would feel able to make (and that don’t always ring true - in particular the idea that the Japanese were bad at defensive warfare, which doesn't really match the determination with which so many isolated garrisons fought, and sometimes looks like an attempt to excuse a lack of planning).

The various accounts pick out a series of weaknesses in the Japanese war effort. These included a general lack of a realistic war plan after the first period of conquest, a tendency to adopt over-complex plans (as seen most famously at Leyte Gulf, where task forces coming from all across the remains of the Japanese Empire were meant to operate together, but also seen at the battle of the Philippine Sea, where General Ozawa planned to attack from outside the range of American carrier aircraft, using the airfields on the Marianas Islands to retrieve his aircraft, a plan that failed because his aircrews weren't able to navigate accurately over such long distances, and thus mainly missed the American fleet, and also because the airfields were under constant American attack), a chronic over-reporting of success (and a general unwilling to investigate claims too closely), which then fed back into new plans that were based on the believed successes in earlier battles and a tendency to be rather too touchy about criticism (on one occasion an Admiral who wasn't happy with his lookouts working with their windows closed because he believed that it distorted their views couldn't just tell the responsible officer, because he would have taken it as a stain on his honour, and instead told a junior officer to investigate how glass was made, so he could work it out for himself!).

This is an utterly fascinating series of eyewitness accounts of the Pacific War as seen from within the Japanese Navy, and provides a very different view of many of the most famous battles of the war. 

1 - The Hawaii Operation - Shigeru Fukudome
2 - The Air Attack on Pearl Harbor - Mitsuo Fuchida
3 - The Opening Air Offensive Against the Philippines - Koichi Shimada
4 - Japanese Operations in the Indian Ocean - Toshikazu Ohmae
5 - The Battle of Midway - Mitsuo Fuchida and Masatake Okumiya
6 - The Struggle for Guadalcanal - Raizo Tanaka
7 - The Battle of Savo Island - Toshikazu Ohmae
8 - The Withdrawal from Kiska - Masataka Chihaya
9 - Ozawa in the Pacific: A Junior Officer's Experience, Minoru Nomura
10 - The Air Battle off Taiwan - Shigeru Fukudome
11 - The Battle of Leyte Gulf - Tomiji Koyanagi
12 - Why Japan's Antisubmarine Warfare Failed - Atsushi Oi
13 - The Kamikaze Attack Corps - Rikihei Inoguchi and Tadashi Nakajima
14 - Japanese Submarine Tactics and the Kaiten, Kennosuke Torisu, assisted by Masataka Chihaya
15 - Kamikazes in the Okinawa Campaign, Toshiyuki Yokoi
16 - The Sinking of the Yamato - Mitsuru Yoshida
17 - Thoughts on Japan's Naval Defeat - Toshiyuki Yokoi

Author: Various
Editor: David C. Evans
Edition: Paperback (2nd Edition)
Pages: 568
Publisher: Naval Institute Press/ Seaforth
Year: Modern edition of 1969 original

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