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The Japanese Navy in World War II: In the Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers
Edited and translated by David C. Evans
Second edition, originally published in 1969
Naval Institute Press, 1986, 568 pages

Most of this book's 17 chapters were published previously in the 1950s and early 1960s as individual articles in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings. These chapters written by different former Japanese Navy officers offer insights into Japanese military thinking not typically found in Pacific War histories written from the American perspective. Of course, there are instances of overestimation or errors in battle results from the Japanese viewpoint, but the editor often provides end notes to explain results from the American side. Each chapter starts with a brief introduction from the editor David C. Evans, who taught history at the University of Virginia and is the co-author of the 1997 book Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941.

Four chapters deal with Japan's use of special (suicide) attacks in the last ten months of the war: 13 - "The Kamikaze Attack Corps" by Rikihei Inoguchi and Tadashi Nakajima, 14 - "Japanese Submarine Tactics and the Kaiten" by Kennosuke Torisu assisted by Masataka Chihaya, 15 - "Kamikazes in the Okinawa Campaign" by Toshiyuki Yokoi, and 16 - "The Sinking of the Yamato" by Mitsuru Yoshida. Full-length books (The Divine Wind (1958) by Inoguchi and Nakajima and Requiem for Battleship Yamato (1985) by Yoshida) cover the material in Chapters 13 and 16, but Chapter 15 presents the views of Toshiyuki Yokoi, which are not published elsewhere. He was critical of the decision to use the Kamikaze Corps's suicide attacks. His opinions contrast sharply with those of Inoguchi and Nakajima, two senior Navy officers who supported these tactics.

From early November 1944, Rear Admiral Toshiyuki Yokoi was Commander of the 25th Air Flotilla based on Kanoya Air Base in southern Kyūshū. On February 9, 1945, he was appointed to be Chief of Staff to Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki, Commander of 5th Air Fleet whose mission was to stop enemy carrier striking forces by concentrating on suicide air attacks. He asked permission to decline the position due to his opposition to suicide attacks but was still requested to take the post. Yokoi expresses his opinion when he heard about the order from General Headquarters that suicide attacks would be adopted by the military (pp. 455-6):

Imperial General Headquarters was so fully convinced that it issued an outrageous and unprecedented order to the effect that all armed forces should resort to suicide attack. This proved that the high command, utterly confused by a succession of defeats, had lost all wisdom of cool judgment and had degenerated to the point of indulging in wild gambling. The order was nothing less than a national death sentence. Like every military order, it was issued in the name of the emperor and was, therefore, no matter how outrageous, not open to question or criticism. Obedience was imperative; there was no alternative. Critics of the kamikaze attacks should distinguish the completely volunteer flights of October 1944 from those made after this imperial order.

The following excerpt summarizes Yokoi's thoughts about suicide attacks during the Battle of Okinawa (pp. 467-8):

The battle for Okinawa proved conclusively the defects of suicide air attacks. Such operations cannot be successful where materiel and trained manpower are limited. It would have been far wiser for the sadly depleted Japanese military to have conserved its manpower instead of squandering it as was done. It is not strange that this unrealistic aerial tactic ended in failure. Even the physical destructive power of the weapon itself was not sufficient for the task for which it had been designed. While it might deal a fatal blow to small warships or transports, the enemy aircraft carriers, which were meant to be primary targets, were sometimes able to survive attacks in which they were hit several times. Setting aside Admiral Ohnishi's original concept of adopting suicide attacks for the limited purpose of inactivating carrier decks for a week, the whole concept of suicide attacks to annihilate enemy task forces was more than unreasonable, it was sheer lunacy. Once the order had been issued by headquarters for these suicide attacks, they lost their voluntary aspect and became, instead, "murder attacks," and humanity was lost sight of.

Yokoi concludes the chapter on "Kamikazes in the Okinawa Campaign" with the following thoughts (p. 473):

Japan's suicide air operations mark the Pacific War with two scars that will remain forever in the annals of battle: one, of shame at the mistaken way of command; the other, of valor at the self-sacrificing spirit of young men who died for their beloved country.

One frustration in Yokoi's chapter is a statement without any details about a kamikaze pilot who strafed his commanding officer's quarters as he took off (p. 468). This is sometimes referenced by other authors, but it is not known how such an event without details can be verified.

Chapter 14 by Kennosuke Torisu, a former submarine commander and submarine operations officer for the 6th Fleet, is considered an authority on the kaiten human torpedo with several books written on the subject. The chapter includes about eight pages on kaiten weapons, which were first used at Ulithi, where the fleet oiler Mississinewa was hit and sunk on November 20, 1944. As the Japanese submarine fleet dwindled toward the war's end, many of the remaining submarines were equipped with kaiten although with very limited success in battle.