TOKYO 9-12 December 1945
Interrogation of: Vice Admiral FUKUDOME, Shigeru, IJN; Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet from 1940 to April 1941; Chief First Section, Naval General Staff, TOKYO, April 1941 to May 1943; Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet from May 1943 to March 1944; Commander, Second Air Fleet, July 1944 to 15 January 1945; Commander, 10th Area Fleet, 15 January 1945 to present date.
Interrogator: Rear Admiral R.A. Ofstie, USN.
Allied Officers Present: Colonel R.H. Terrill, USAAF.
Admiral FUKUDOME offers high level comment on important plans and operations throughout the PACIFIC War. He discusses the employment of shore-based naval air forces throughout the PHILIPPINE Campaign and action in the SINGAPORE Area for the last seven months of the war, the planning and decision of the Combined Fleet under Admiral KOGA, and the planning of the Naval General Staff from the beginning of the war to the spring of 1943.
Q. What was the reason for your being ordered to command of the Second Air Fleet, and what were the movements of your headquarters?
A. The only reason I can think of for my appointment to that position, since I was not an air expert, was the fact I had just recovered from a sick spell when the new air force was organized, and it was a matter of convenience that I was assigned to that position. At the time I took it, the Second Air Fleet really had not reached the stage of a unit; it was more in the training stage. I received the appointment in TOKYO and took over command at KATORI, in CHIBA Prefecture, on 15 June. Toward the end of July, I received orders from Central Headquarters to move headquarters to KANOYA, in KYUSHU. The areas of operation assigned to me were KYUSHU and OKINAWA district. in the opinion of the Imperial General Staff at that time, the American offensive was expected to be at one of three possibilities; first, against the PHILIPPINES; second, against TAIWAN-KYUSHU Area; third against HONSHU; and as I already had headquarters in KYUSHU I was ordered to take charge of the TAIWAN-KYUSHU district. It was as a result of that order that my command became operational. At the time, the First Air Fleet was stationed in the PHILIPPINES Area and the Third Air Fleet, based at KISARAZU, was responsible for the KANTO District. Toward the end of August, it appeared that the weight of the American offensive was directed southward, namely the PHILIPPINES, and I was therefore ordered to change my headquarters to TAIWAN, which I did on 10 September. There was, however, no change in the area for which I was responsible--KYUSHU, OKINAWA, TAIWAN district--it was simply a change in headquarters. At the time that I took over the Second Air Fleet, the pilots were still inadequately trained, so that the period when I was in KANOYA was spent in further training. Four days after I had established my headquarters, on 14 September, I received the first attack from your Task Force.
Q. On arrival in FORMOSA on the 10th, what was the status of your aircraft?
A. My fleet had approximately 100 planes, but simultaneous with my advance into TAIWAN about 200 Army planes were placed under my command; so from that time on I had a total of about 300 planes. As already stated, you made your first air attack on 14 October, and I undertook a counter-attack with a part of my air force on the night of the 15th and 16th with some success. The greater part of my air force was used in day counter-attack, but I believe that they obtained very little result with that counter-attack. The 300 planes used in this counter-attack were those stationed in KYUSHU, and after attack flew down to TAIWAN. These were in addition to the other 300.
Q. What were those 300 counter-attack planes; were they Army, Navy or both?
A. All Navy planes which I had trained from the beginning.
Q. What was the organization in KYUSHU on your arrival; what flotillas did you have, and what types?
A. There were many changes in reorganization during the time I was there. I cannot recall the exact system, but there were three principal divisions: the fighter corps, reconnaissance corps, and attack planes. Each division was further divided into two groups ranging in strength from 30 to 40 planes each. In addition to those three divisions, there were the land service forces divided between TAIWAN, OKINAWA and KYUSHU. These latter might be called maintenance units.
Q. You took command of the Second Air Fleet plus the Army aircraft on your arrival. Were those all the Army planes in TAIWAN, and did you have direct command of these Army planes?
A. I had command of the Army planes through the Commandant of the Army Air Division which was already there, and the 200 Army planes I mentioned were all of the Army planes there.
Q. What advance intelligence did you have of the approach of the Carrier Task Force on 12-14 October?
A. As I had just established my headquarters in TAIWAN only a few days earlier, my intelligence had not been well organized yet, and I was, therefore, forced to rely on information from Central Headquarters. However, since your Task Force had attacked OKINAWA on about the 11th or 12th, I conjectured that the Task Force on its way southeast, might undertake an attack against TAIWAN.
Q. What reports did you have on the strike on OKINAWA, which was within your area of command as I understand it?
A. Just prior to your attack on OKINAWA, a very small number of scouts which I had in OKINAWA, as a result of daytime reconnaissance, brought the report that the Task Force was not a very large one. Its nucleus was probably two or three carriers, and not certain whether or not there was a battleship included. As a result of the first attack, all of those scouting planes were lost, so that no further reports of scouting were received.
Q. About how many Japanese planes were reported lost at OKINAWA?
A. Around ten, all scouting planes. The following attack on TAIWAN was made jointly by your Task Forces moving up from the PHILIPPINES; that was the report we got from our reconnaissance planes in TAIWAN.
Q. What losses did you sustain in the Task Forces attack on TAIWAN?
A. The Navy lost between 170 or 180 planes, which included about 120 fighters, 30 attack planes, and 10 reconnaissance planes. Of the Army planes, only about one-half of the total of 200 were really fit for actual fighting, and I believe that practically all of those were lost. Consequently, the total aircraft loss was somewhat less than 300. (Note: This apparently refers to the attack in October, as mentioned later).
Q. What results, by way of damage to the American Third Fleet, did you report to TOKYO?
A. As already stated, our daytime counter-attack proved practically of no value, we got very little results. The night attacks undertaken on two successive nights were considerably better. Of course, the reports made by commanders of the units actually participating in the raids are inclined to be exaggerated. As reported by them, however, three carriers and several other vessels were reported either sunk or damaged. These counter-attacks were made by medium type, land-based attack planes with torpedoes. The day attack was made from TAIWAN, but that did not prove effective; the two night attacks were made from KYUSHU bases. (Aside from Mr. Mizota, the Japanese interpreter: I might add at this time, as there had been no reports of successful engagements for some time, the newspaper played this up quite prominently).
Q. Was the report believed by the General Staff; did you send in a qualifying statement to TOKYO, or was it a positive statement?
A. As the two night attacks were made by the planes based in KYUSHU, the results were reported in by a Captain in command there. Of course, the only thing I could do was to get those reports together for transmittal to the Imperial General Staff. As a general practice, I believe that these reports from the operating units were not taken at their full value by the Imperial General Staff; just what attitude they took toward this particular report I do not know.
Q. After the action was over, what reinforcements did you then receive from the Homeland; Army, Navy, carrier planes, etc.?
A. In October it became more and more apparent that your counter-thrust would be directed further southward, namely the PHILIPPINES; and as the First Air Fleet assigned to the PHILIPPINES Area had lost the greater part of their planes it was decided that the Second Air Fleet should be sent into the PHILIPPINES Area to reinforce the First Air Fleet. With that end in view, the Second Air Fleet received by way of reinforcement perhaps a slightly larger number of planes than I had lost in the TAIWAN engagement. These reinforcements were planes which had bene gotten together from all parts of JAPAN and sent to TAIWAN.
Q. What was the actual date of movement of headquarters to the PHILIPPINES?
A. I, myself, went to MANILA on the 22nd, and the 450 planes of the Second Air Fleet reached CLARK Field the next day, on the 23rd.
Q. What would you say were the overall results of the Task Force strikes on the RYUKYUS and FORMOSA; what effect on the subsequent PHILIPPINES Operation?
A. In the TAIWAN engagement, a part of the planes of the First Air Fleet took part, together with my planes. While the results attained were probably not as great as reported at the time, I felt that considerable success had been attained and hence expected that some time would lapse before you would undertake the attack further south. However, your thrusts against the PHILIPPINES came much sooner than expected.
Q. We heard from Admiral TOYODA that he had reinforced you with Third Fleet aircraft. What aircraft were received from Admiral OZAWA's Force, and were they received in response to a request from you?
A. I think that, at that time, I received no carrier-based planes from Admiral OZAWA's Force. I wonder whether or not Admiral TOYODA did have in mind some 40 or 50 well trained pilots who participate din the night counter-attacks against your Task Force, on October 12 and 14 from KYUSHU, working under the Second Fleet. It is possible, also, that I might have received some reinforcement from the carrier fleet. However, as the reinforcements come from Central Headquarters, I don't know exact source from which planes actually came.
Q. In the PHILIPPINES on your arrival, 22 October, I understood you brought with you, arriving a day later, roughly 450 planes of the Second Air Fleet; is that correct?
A. Yes, attached to the Second Air Fleet. More accurately, the majority of the 450 flew down there on the 23rd, the balance coming later. It was the intention, however, that those planes flying to the PHILIPPINES on the 23rd should attack your Task Force on the way, but on account of bad weather conditions they didn't encounter your Task Forces.
Q. What was the strength of the First Air Fleet at this time?
A. The First Air Fleet had suffered heavy losses around DAVAO, and the balance of approximately 100 planes were concentrated around MANILA, the Commandant of the Fleet at the time being Vice Admiral ONISHI.
Q. What was the exact date of formation of the First Combined Base Air Force?
A. I believe that the time was 26 October. When I arrived in MANILA, I joined Vice Admiral ONISHI, and, from that time on, the Two Air Fleets operated jointly under Vice Admiral OKOCHI, who was CinC Southwest Area Fleet. The First Air Fleet was already under the Southwest Area Fleet, and when I joined Admiral ONISHI, the, we both came under Vice Admiral OKOCHI's Southwest Area Fleet. On the 23rd the majority of the 450 planes which flew from TAIWAN to LUZON undertook attack on your Task Force on the way, north of LUZON, but without success owing to bad weather, as I stated earlier. Then on 24, 25 and 26 October, three consecutive days, the First Air Fleet under Admiral ONISHI and the Second Air Fleet carried out attacks against your Task Forces north of LUZON, operating not as one unit but separately. I followed my own tactics while Admiral ONISHI used his own. Incidently, Admiral ONISHI's Force was very weak at the time.
Q. What results were reported to you from the air attacks against American Forces?
A. The Second Air Force reported very limited results; namely, some damage to two carriers, types unknown. As against that, the First Air Fleet, which was much weaker in strength than the Second Air Fleet, reported several vessels sunk or damaged. This difference in results between the two fleets is to be explained by the fact that while the Second Fleet, which was relatively well balanced, followed standard tactics, the First Fleet under Admiral ONISHI attempted the so called special attack tactics which probably accounts for the difference in results.
Q. Over that same period of time, through the 256th, approximately what losses did the two air fleet sustain?
A. I don't remember exact figures, but the loss was relatively slight in the case of the Second Fleet, owing principally to the fact that planes had difficulty in finding your units owing to bad weather. The First Air Fleet, while they used the special attack method, had only a small number of planes to begin with. Consequently, I believe that the total oss of the two fleets was somewhere between 20 and 30. On the 25th, our surface fleet came into action, and the planes which gave air support to the surface fleet suffered some loss.
Q. What was the approximate status of the Army air at that time; strength, losses, etc.?
A. Most of the well trained Army Air Force was concentrated in northern BACALOD, further south, and were directing their attack directly against LEYTE. Those further north were still in the stage of training. Altogether, the Army aircraft were slightly less in number than the Navy planes.
Q. From the time of the LEYTE Operation, what reinforcements did you request from TOKYO, and what did you get?
A. Myself, together with my colleagues on the spot, felt that victory at LEYTE was absolutely indispensable; and those in General Headquarters were of the same opinion. So there was agreement that every possible plane, as well as all possibly Army forces, should be sent to the PHILIPPINES. I believe that up to the middle of December, the total air strength of between 600 and 700 planes was maintained. After that, however, replacement could not be continued to keep up that level. The losses increased as time passed and, from the middle of December, replacement could not keep pace with our losses; and by early part of January, I had lost practically all of my planes, my air force had been practically wiped out. Replacements were not getting through owing to operations of your air force. Consequently I had made up my mind to concentrate thereafter no deployment as ground forces. However, I was transferred to SINGAPORE just at that time, the order being dated 8 January. The winding up of the business took so much time it was not until the 15th that I was able to go to SINGAPORE and relieve my predecessor on the 16th as CinC, Tenth Area Fleet.
Q. Did you leave from LUZON?
A. The latter part of my stay in the PHILIPPINES was at CLARK Field, but in going to SINGAPORE I went on a seaplane taking off from MANILA.
Q. During your whole period in the PHILIPPINES, what is your rough estimate of the total air losses you sustained?
A. I would guess roughly around 3,000 planes.
Q. Was that due to general attrition losses, material failures; or how can you break that figure down as to the principal cause of the loss of that number of planes?
A. I enumerate the various causes without dividing the number. Our planes were flying almost daily over LEYTE and surrounding waters usually under unfavorable weather conditions, and many planes were lost due to weather itself. New replacements were not highly trained, which accounts in part for the fact that many planes were lost on the way before they got to TAIWAN. There was also a steady increase in the frequency and number of your attacks, with the result that our losses on the ground increased greatly; and when our planes took off in a hurry to avoid being destroyed on the ground, they were immediately knocked down by your planes. General speaking, as replacements were relatively poor pilots, there was considerable loss resulting from poor handling. In other words, the greater part of the total loss was traceable to other than air combat.
Q. At the end of that period then, mid-January 1945, would you say that the air striking power was very low, both Army and Navy?
A. The situation just prior to 8 January, when I was ordered to SINGAPORE, was that the Navy had only 30 fighters, which I moved from CLARK Field to ICHAGI near APARRI. My intention at the time was that, with the remaining 30 lost, I would have to resort to ground operations, as mentioned previously. I believe that the situation with regard to the Army Air Force was probably even worse than in the case of the Navy.
Q. What happened, now, to the former First and Second Air Fleets, which formed the Combined Air Fleet, when you moved out?
A. Simultaneously with my transfer to SINGAPORE, the Second Air FLeet was dissolved, its personnel being incorporated into the First Air Fleet as it had no more planes. But I believe that the name "Combined Base Air Force" was used for some time after that, instead of the First Air Fleet. At that time, the remaining air fleet under Admiral ONISHI changed its base to TAIWAN from the PHILIPPINES.
Q. During your period of stay in the PHILIPPINES, how did you coordinate your operations with those of the Army air, through what agency?
A. The Army Air Forces had its headquarters, throughout, at MANILA, but its Chief of Staff was stationed at CLARK Field in order to coordinate with the Naval Air Forces. There was general agreement between the two services that they should work very close together, and if possible as a single unit. But in practice that was very difficult to attain for various reasons, one of which was the fact of difference in formation between the two air forces, difference in terminology used in orders, etc. Even when an order was given to take off and rendezvous at a certain point, they couldn't always do that; so that in actual practice about the best they were able to accomplish would be that the Army would take off at a certain hour, the Navy would take off at a certain hour; just agreement at different times of taking off.
Q. And agreements on targets, etc.?
A. Yes, designation of time and target was about the limit of actual cooperation.
Q. Referring now to the SHO-GO Operation Plan, did you have full knowledge of the plans for fleet employment at LEYTE?
A. I did not have information in detail regarding the use of the fleet. I knew only such as was contained in the orders which the air force received from the Combined Fleet. The same applied to Admiral ONISHI.
Q. What was the substance of the directive for the employment of the air forces in this operation?
A. It was only in the nature of a general order to the effect that, whether in the course of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd SHO-GO Operation, our air force should be employed to drive back any attempt at landing by the enemy. There was no detailed order regarding special points to be attacked.
Q. Did you have direct communications and direct access to the fleet forces moving up to LEYTE?
A. Yes, we had direct communication.
Q. What is satisfactory?
A. Yes, I was able to send any kind of communication. However, actually messages from myself to the fleet were usually reports of reconnaissance planes, and in the reverse direction from the fleet to the air force, it was usually asking for air support. It was, of course, my desire to give the utmost support to the Task Forces under Admiral OZAWA, KURITA, SHIMA and NISHIMURA, but I discovered as a result of this, my
first experience with land-based air forces, that land-based air forces are lacking the same facility in operation that you have in a carrier force. The result was that I was not able to give to our surface forces one-tenth of the assistance I would like to have given.
Q. Did the fleet forces inform you, from time to time, of the actions they were engaged in, or their difficulties and movements, besides requesting cover?
A. Yes, constantly.
Q. With specific reference to Admiral KURITA's Force, do you recall what air protection was arranged for in the plans, and what was given to KURITA on the 24th, the day of KURITA's approach?
A. In using this unwieldy land-based air force to support a constantly moving fleet, about the best that could be done would be to send fighters to protect the surface units, and scouting planes to search for submarines. But to do that would mean a serious weakening of the attacking power of the air force. Therefore, although there were repeated requests for such support from KURITA, I turned a deaf ear to those requests, and decided that the best protection I could give to KURITA's Force would be to concentrate my entire air force in attacking your Task Force which was waiting outside beyond the channel. However, owing partly to bad weather conditions, the attack against your Task Force was not successful. I did send a few fighters to protect the surface units and to scout for submarines in compliance with KURITA's request.
Q. The reason then for the ineffectiveness of the air protection against air attack was the small numbers available for the job?
A. Yes; in part, lack of sufficient numbers and also in part to the bad weather mentioned before.
Q. Would you comment on the use of the Special Attack (Kamikaze) at LEYTE?
A. After the two air fleets were combined to form the Combined Base Air Force, I, being the senior officer took command with Admiral ONISHI as Chief of Staff. Throughout, the Kamikaze or Special Attack planes constituted the nucleus of my air force. The targets varied from time to time and were selected from a standpoint of obtaining greatest advantage to our forces. Principal targets were perhaps carriers, sometimes cruisers were selected, and again, especially when your destroyers came in large numbers against the forces that we had landed in LEYTE, they were designated as principal targets. The Kamikaze confined its operations to naval vessels (sea units). In the operations against land targets, we used principally medium type, land attack planes and ordinary attack lanes and bombers, but used horizontal-bombing and not dive-bombing against land targets. In addition, we used seaplanes for attacking torpedo boats.
Q. What was the reason, throughout this period, that loaded transports were not a primary target of the Special Attack Force?
A. I wish to correct myself on an earlier statement. Loaded transports were looked upon as at least of equal importance with carriers, perhaps even a little higher than carriers, as targets.
Q. In fact, however, no loaded transports were ever hit, and for that reason I assumed that such orders were never issued.
A. On one occasion loaded transports were made the principal targets, some 300 miles east-southeast of LEYTE; and on another occasion, in an area very close to LEYTE, our Kamikaze were sent out to attack what we supposed were loaded transports, but, by some error, the attack was made against small landing craft.
Q. With respect to the whole LEYTE Operation, you have already stated that it was virtually a finish fight. Can you say whether or not the Army, from the beginning, intended to make LEYTE an all-out operation, including all reinforcements they could put in there?
A. What the policy was at the top, I don't know, because that was in the hands of the CinC, Southwest Area Fleet. But I was under the impression that, at first, the Army was hesitant to throw in their full force with the idea of fighting a decisive battle, but after a few days elapsed, it appears as if headquarters and local authorities agreed that that was what they should do. But when decision was made, actually they couldn't get reinforcements down there to carry on the fighting.
Q. Subsequent to the retirement of Admiral KURITA's Force through SULU SEA, and the completion of the Naval Operation, what, if any, new directive was received from CinC, Combined Fleet?
A. So far as I can recall, there was no change in the operation ordered from the Combined Fleet. I believe that the order was to continue using the Naval Air Force to its utmost with a view to cutting off subsequent landing operations.
Q. Again at this time, after the naval action had been fought, roughly, how many planes did you have and, roughly, how many planes of the Army were operational in the PHILIPPINES?
A. At the period that you mention, namely, immediately after our Task Forces had withdrawn, there had not been any serious depletion in air force because it was still the early part of the LEYTE Operation, and the continuing bad weather made the number of air combats relatively few.
Q. Did you have definite plans for air support of the reinforcing convoys going into ORMOC, and was it in conjunction with the Army?
A. I am not at all certain on this, but I do not believe that any definite air support was planned for that reinforcement. However, I think that the job was assigned to the Army Air Force based near MENADO.
Q. Admiral, what are your opinions as to the primary reasons for failure to defend successfully against the invasion of LEYTE?
A. Very briefly stated, I would say that the principal reason was inadequacy of our force plus the inability to reinforce and to send supplies. In other words, difference between the strength of your force and ours. In slightly greater detail, the Army, the 16th Division, was insufficiently strong to prevent the first landing. After that it was pushed back further.
Q. During the period between the LEYTE landing on 20 October and the MINDORO landing on 15 December, what was the usual employment of your force?
A. Throughout that period, our Naval Air Force was employed in operations centered about LEYTE, principally against your transports, cruisers, destroyers and Task Force, whenever it made its appearance, and occasionally against land targets in which we had the support of the Army Air Force.
Q. Were there any markedly heavy losses during that period, 15 October to 15 December; and if so, from what cause?
A. Our largest, heaviest losses were at the bases while our planes were on the ground, the losses being caused by attacks from your Task Forces, and after you constructed airfields on LEYTE also from the Leyte air bases. But I believe that we suffered heaviest from your carrier-based planes. I do not recall any particular instance where there was an outstandingly heavy loss.
Q. Did you receive replacements during this period, or about how much had your strength decreased by the time of the landing on MINDORO in December?
A. Up to the commencement of the MINDORO landing we probably lost over 2,000 planes; but replacement was kept up more or less steadily, so that the original strength of between six and seven hundred planes was maintained. It never reached the number of 1,000, but the original number was maintained more or less throughout. But that marked the peak of the fighting in that area, and after that, replacement stopped and there was a very sudden fall in our strength.
Q. During the MINDORO Operation, the Task Force maintained what we call a "blanket" over the fields on LUZON. Do you recall any marked activity of that nature during the MINDORO Operation?
A. Yet, I felt the effect of that "blanket" operation in that attacks increased in frequency, and also prevented replacements getting through.
Q. You said that there was a sharp drop in strength after mid-December. What was the primary reason for that drop in strength?
A. The principal reason was inability to keep up, continue replacement, which in turn was traceable to the fact that replacement would be attacked on the way.
Q. From FORMOSA, etc.?
A. Principally south of FORMOSA, after taking off from FORMOSA, as your planes were active day and night. The other reason for inability to keep up replacement was that the source was fast drying up, both as to material and personnel. This is merely a conjecture, but it is possible that one reason for the drop in replacement was the change in policy at Headquarters toward the LEYTE Operation. At first they decided to put everything they had into it, but as the prospect for final success did not appear too bright, they might have changed their minds and withheld part of the replacement originally intended for that area. That was the impression I got regarding the situation in LEYTE.
Q. When did you get the first intelligence of the movement of the American Forces toward the LINGAYEN landing which was made on 9 January?
A. We had no advance information of your movement against LINGAYEN until the fleet actually arrived there, which I believe was on 5 January, when your fleet began to move north from MINDORO. Our planes kept constant watch, and our belief was that landing would be attempted around MANILA Bay or points south; so we were taken by surprise when they appeared in LINGAYEN and started landing there.
Q. Was there any special employment of air against that invasion force, other than Special Attack tactics?
A. We put all the air force we had into that attack, not only the Special Attack ones, but all the others as well and that was virtually the end of our air strength. In other words, we lost practically everything.
Q. Do you believe that there would have been any difference in the ultimate outcome in the war if the American Forces had stayed at LEYTE and ot gone to MINDORO and then to LINGAYEN?
A. I do not believe that there would have been any difference in the ultimate situation, but that the end might have been delayed somewhat. The reason for so thinking is that, had your forces stopped at LEYTE instead of going on to MINDORO and the subsequent operation, the reinforcement of our forces at LEYTE as originally planned would have been gradually increased. Although in the end you would strengthen your forces in that area to such an extent that we would be overwhelmed, for a period, anyway, we would have been able to continue. To that extent I think it would have been delayed.
Q. In respect to the American movement, suppose the American Forces had stopped at MINDORO and established airfields there, would there have been any difference?
A. Yes, to about the same extent as in the case of LEYTE. The answer is very much the same. it would have delayed the end of the PHILIPPINE Operation, because the fact that you made your last advance into LINGAYEN, which was wholly unexpected on our side, speeded up your recovery of the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. It would simply have been a difference in time in the general situation. I think that it would have made no difference whether you stopped or continued as you did. It would have slowed up our subsequent operations; we would have continued resistance for a much longer period.
Q. Would it have affected the operation at IWO JIMA/ WOuld that operation have gone off on time, without any greater resistance? Was it necessary to the conclusion of the war that we occupy the whole of the PHILIPPINES?
A. I think we go back to the original answer. There would have been no difference in the ultimate result, because if you held the principal bases, the supply would be cut off, the source of supply as well as replacement. We would have "dried up" in time, but by continuing to advance you merely speeded up the end.
Q. You had no directive from TOKYO Headquarters indicating that they had decreased the flow of replacement aircraft, is that correct?
A. Yes, that is correct.
Q. Then if they supplied you with all the aircraft they could, you and the Army, would you say the PHILIPPINE Campaign practically marked the end of Japanese air strength of both the Army and Navy?
A. As I have already suggested, I had the feeling toward the end that I was not receiving all the replacement that might have been sent down there, due probably to the fact that Central Headquarters had their mind on the next operation; just exactly where, I do not know. It might have been OKINAWA, KYUSHU or even around the KANTO District, so that your would not be accurate to say that the end of my stay marked the end of the Japanese Air Force. Had it been decided to send everything in the way of reinforcement that was available from JAPAN at the time, it would probably be about 2,000 Navy planes and another 2,000 of the Army, but that would have meant discontinuance of training altogether.
Q. Were there any particular features of the whole PHILIPPINE Campaign that worked either for or against the success or efficient employment of the Japanese Naval Air Force?
A. The principal cause of the serious handicap that the Navy Air Force constantly faced was the fact that, owing to the low training level of our air personnel, there were various accidents before the planes ever got to the PHILIPPINES, accidents on the way. That difficulty was increased by the fact that we were always facing bad weather, and since your fighters were facing the same weather condition, it boils down to difference in training level. We were all agreed on that point, and I cannot remember any particular difficulty having arisen from location of airfields or failure of parts to come through. I might mention one additional feature, namely, that because of the very rapid depletion of our fighting force, the replacements had to be put into combat as soon as they arrived. WIn other words, we had no opportunity to receive training under local geographical and weather conditions.
Q. Was the cooperation with the Army air and ground forces generally satisfactory over the whole period of the PHILIPPINE Campaign, or were there any particularly important points of friction or personalities that had any appreciable influence on the efficiency of the overall air operation?
A. No, I do not think that there was any particular friction between the Army and Navy Air Forces. The two services were supposed to have the same number of planes in the PHILIPPINES; but as a matter of fact, the Navy constantly had more than the Army and were operating more actively than the Army planes, with the result that the Army Air Force took the attitude of thanking the Navy for taking more than its share of the burden. That was one of the reasons for the absence of friction. The other was that the PHILIPPINES Operation ended before the land forces had a chance to get into action. If land operation took place in any extensive scale, there might have been friction, but the operation ended before there was such a chance.
Q. If the operation were to be done over again, wha different method of operation would you have adopted?
A. If you left the matter to me, I would have made a serious stand against your landing at LUZON. I might have employed a few planes earlier, but I would have saved the mass of my forces to counter-attack your landing
on LUZON Island proper, for a last counter-attack. Because we divided up our forces to meet each landing, as you so heavily outnumbered us, we were bound to lose heavily.
Q. In the discussions of the battles for LEYTE Gulf with Admiral OZAWA and Admiral KURITA, it appeared that neither of them had good information as to the location of the principal American Forces. They stated that they were working in the dark as to where the American Task Forces were, and of what strength. Admiral KURITA, specifically, on coming through SAN BERNARDINO Strait, did not know what forces he was going to meet outside. He then had an engagement with a force, the composition of which he did not know. Why was there not a better search made to let these officers know where the American Task Forces were and what they were doing?
A. That is to be explained, first, by the fact that on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th, those three days, the weather conditions were particularly bad, and second, it so happened that the Navy's scouting force was at its lowest level at that time. We did not have suitable scouting planes and principally had to rely on the Army. Also, because of the inadequate number, I was unable to send out these planes except once a day or, at most, twice a day for reconnaissance. Even then they returned without covering the whole area, but only small sections. What Admiral KURITA wanted was a complete report on enemy movements, but the best I was able to do was to give the approximate position of the enemy Task Force once a day or twice a day. As far as Admiral OZAWA's force was concerned, he was way up north beyond the area under my command, and, consequently, I was not able to give him any information at all.
Q. Admiral KURITA stated that one reason for his turning north rather than entering LEYTE Gulf was because of his lack of knowledge of where the American Task Forces were. What is your view of Admiral KURITA's decision to turn north instead of entering LEYTE Gulf as was the original instruction?
A. My contention has always been that a fleet or task force, to operate effectively, must have its own carrier-based air force, because land-based air force, such as we had, insufficient in number and especially lacking in sufficient training, could not give efficient assistance, especially in the way of reconnaissance. In that particular case, Admiral KURITA started out with his fleet with the intention of making a thrust into LEYTE Gulf, but turned back, as you say, because of his not knowing what was waiting for him in the GUlf, nor what was the strength or position of the enemy in his vicinity. That might have been the correct thing to do under the circumstances, but if I had been in Admiral KURITA's place, I do not say this by way of criticism of Admiral KURITA, but had I been in his place, since he started out with the purpose of engaging the enemy whatever it might be, I would have continued and made a thrust into the Gulf and undertaken the engagement.
Q. Will you briefly recount your movement out from MANILA to SINGAPORE, where you got your aircraft, and your route?
A. During the day time of the 8th, I had made up my mind to take the remaining 30 planes and move to ICHAGI, near APARRI; but I received my orders transferring me, so on the night of the 8th, I moved to CAVITE. Usually this trip takes about two hours, but because of various incidents, it took me twelve hours from CLARK to CAVITE. DUring the night of the 9th, a flying boat was supposed to be sent to CAVITE from FORMOSA, but because of bad weather it arrived on the morning of the 11th. At about 0300 I departed CAVITE, arriving at CAMRANH Bay, in French INDO-CHINA at 0900. This was in a float reconnaissance plane single-engine, two-place. During the afternoon of the same day, I moved to SAIGON. I was supposed to have moved on from SAIGON to SINGAPORE, but there was a U.S. Task Force attack on the 12th so my reconnaissance plane could not get through, and actually didn't get away until the 15th. I relieved my predecessor from his post--CinC Tenth Area Fleet--on the 16th.
Q. What damages did you observe or learn of from the Task Force attack on SAIGON?
A. As I recall it, the attack came in four waves. The main targets seemed to be boats along the rivers, fuel tanks and airfields. On the airfields about 20 Army fighters, which had just come back from BURMA for training purposes, were either damaged or destroyed, and about 20 to 30 Navy planes were either damaged or destroyed by machine gun fire. Several ships were damaged and sunk and about two or three oil tanks burned. But since I was just a traveller, I had no official knowledge of the extent of damages.
Q. At SINGAPORE, was there any Army command corresponding to your command?
A. The Seventh Area Army was in SINGAPORE.
Q. What naval and air forces did you have under your command there?
A. Although I said I assumed the position as CinC Tenth Area Fleet, actually I was CinC Thirteenth Air Fleet, also of the First Southern Expeditionary Fleet. Under the Tenth Area Fleet, I had four heavy cruisers: TAKAO, MYOKO, ASHIGARA and HAGURO--the TAKAO was badly damaged and the MYOKO was non-operational--and a number of smaller vessels, mine sweeps and so on. The Thirteenth Air Fleet was mainly a
training unit, the reason being because of the fuel situation at home; here fuel could be obtained and SINGAPORE Area was considered behind the lines. The only actual combat strength we had was about 50 fighters for operations. We had three training units, about 400 planes, mostly trainers. The First Expeditionary Fleet had some small vessels.
Q. What was the area of your responsibility, roughly?
A. BORNEO, western half of NEW GUINEA, French INDO-CHINA, NICOBAR and ANDAMAN; in short, all the southern occupied areas.
Q. What was your relationship to fleet units which would come into your area?
A. Prior to the PHILIPPINE Operation, the KURITA Fleet occasionally came to SINGAPORE Area for training; but since I came to SINGAPORE, not a single fleet vessel came, except submarines of the Sixth Fleet. I had practically no opportunity to have any connection with fleet units.
Q. You had the responsibility for handling convoys and shipping generally in the area? Was it your direct responsibility, or how was it handled?
A. Escort duties came under the CinC Seventh Fleet who was in JAPAN. Regardless of where convoys go, the CinC Seventh Fleet is mainly responsible for planning such convoys. But since the CinC Tenth Fleet is responsible for the safe conduct of anything that may come into his territory, he acts in actual cooperation with the agent for the Seventh Fleet who is in SINGAPORE.
Q. What effect, if any, did the January Task Force attack that we just spoke of have on convoys or the shipping in the southern areas?
A. These Task Force raids had much effect. The recovery by the UNITED STATES of the PHILIPPINES practically cut the entire transportation route from the south; and added to this were the Task Force raids in French INDO-CHINA. So from the middle of January to the middle of February, outside of a few planes which made communication between the Homeland and the souther areas, no ships whatsoever got thoughtout. The situation could not be allowed to continue. Even if we lost 4 or 5 tankers, we thought it was worthwhile if we got one through. From the middle of February to the latter part of March, we carried out ship transportation operations. At that time, there were a dozen or more tankers in the southern areas. Only a third of these were successful, and two-thirds were sunk en route. As I recall, 5 or 6 arrived with 40,000 tons of gasoline, and this was the gasoline used until the end of the war. These ship movements were known as the "NAN" Operations. There was no more traffic after that.
Q. What was the principal cause of the loss of those tankers, and what stopped it entirely?
A. They were sunk by submarines and by aircraft. I believe that more were sunk by aircraft.
Q. Were those, generally, single plane attacks of the 4-motor land planes?
A. I recall on one occasion they were sunk by a formation of 5 or 6 planes which we thought came from MINDORO. In all other cases they were single planes, like Liberators.
Q. What was the system of reporting the losses of ships in your area? To what agency did you report and when?
A. The commander of the convoy directly reported to the CinC Seventh Fleet in every instance. If such an instance occurred in the Tenth area, then the CinC Tenth Fleet was notified simultaneously. I recall once where all five escorts were sunk and there was nobody around to make the report.
Q. Were there other important effects from the Task Force attack in January?
A. In addition to the effect on shipping, the principal effect of the Task Force air raids in January was the moral or spiritual effect. That is not to say that our forces, as a result of those raids, thought that all was over. The moral effect I refer to affected the southwestern areas where I was in charge--MALAYA, SUMATRA and BORNEO which served principally as a sort of logistic base. After those raids became intensive, they realized that the front line was moving up, as evidenced when I arrived in SINGAPORE. After nearly three years of fighting going on, very little defensive preparations had been made. Once this new feeling was established, they got busy on defensive works.
Q. What naval operations did you conduct in your area, and for what purposes?
A. The general situation changed greatly as a result of the loss of the PHILIPPINES. The opinion was gaining strength that in the end the Navy would have to join in with the ground operation. In February, in respect of land operations, I was brought under General TERAUCHI. As for sea operations, the principal work of SINGAPORE Headquarters was in supplying the front areas, doing very much the same work as naval stations of JAPAN proper. There was shortage of rice, shortage of oil close to enemy positions. The result was that I was using naval vessels as transports. It was while engaged in such operations that we lost the ASHIGARA and HAGURO, in conveying supplies to the Army divisions down south.
Q. What were the details of the loss of the HAGURO and ASHIGARA?
A. The HAGURO was lost about 30 miles southwest of PENANG on 16 May. She was on her way to the ANDAMAN and NICOBAR Islands, going with the destroyer KAMIKAZE, both loaded with food supplies. Both of those islands were running badly short of food, and two earlier attempts had been made to get food through by using small ships; but in both cases they were lost as a result of attacks by planes, probably British. It was, therefore, decided that use of small slow speed ships would be of no use, and, therefore, the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE were assigned to this duty. They had just gotten through MOLUCCA Strait on the night of 16 May when they got information that there was a British Task Force ahead; so they turned back. On the way back they encountered a flotilla of five British destroyers which came through the narrow passage there, near the north tip of SUMATRA, and a naval engagement took place at this point. It was reported by KAMIKAZE that three shots from the HAGURO sank one of the British destroyers, but I, myself, later met the commander of that destroyer and learned that while damaged, it was not sunk. The KAMIKAZE, itself, received one shot but managed to get into PENANG. This naval engagement was fought by our side under a very serious handicap as both ships were loaded to the deck to such an extent that only half of the guns could be used against the British destroyers, the intention from the beginning having been to avoid encounter with any enemy ships.
Q. What happened to the HAGURO, sunk buy gun-fire?
A. The HAGURO was sunk by a torpedo from the destroyers. The next morning, namely the 17th, the KAMIKAZE went out to the south where the HAGURO was sunk and rescued 150 to 160 survivors; and according to the report of the survivors, the Commander of the 5th Cruiser Division, Vice Admiral HASHIMOTO, and the captain of the ship were on the bridge as the HAGURO went down, so they were not killed as a result of actual firing. The ASHIGARA was sunk by a torpedo from a submarine while transporting Army personnel as a result of the change in the general situation. As a result of the loss of the PHILIPPINES, it had been decided to move our forces from the CELEBES and the islands near-by further westward, particularly to around SINGAPORE and French INDO-CHINA. The ASHIGARA at that time was carrying about 1,200 Army personnel from BATAVIA to SINGAPORE, and received the torpedo hit while passing through the BANKA Strait in June. The British say, however, she sank possibly from a magnetic mine dropped by air.
Q. Were there any other naval losses besides these?
A. The only other one, not a very serious one, was the damage to the cruiser TAKAO, as a result of a sudden explosion which took place about 2100 on 31 July. We were at a loss at first to account for the cause of the explosion, and divers were sent down to investigate, and discovered attached to the hull two magnetic mines, each containing about 30 kilograms of powder, in addition to one large ship-shaped mine of perhaps one ton. How these mines became attached, they were a complete loss to explain. It was only recently that this riddle was solved when an officer of a British submarine came to me with the story that he had gone there on his submarine and done that work probably on that day or the previous day. There were no other naval losses of importance.
Q. What activities occurred in your area in connection with German submarines?
A. At present there are two German submarines at SINGAPORE and one each in BATAVIA and SOERABAJA, which we took over from the Germans and turned over to the British. The Germans had established a liaison group for their submarines at PENANG, SINGAPORE and BATAVIA. In addition, they had two seaplanes in BATAVIA. I had received orders from Headquarters to cooperate with German submarines in the matter of supplies and maintenance, but had nothing to do with the operation. There was cooperation between TOKYO and BERLIN with regard to the operations of German and Japanese submarines in the INDIAN OCEAN. Liaison was effected through these liaison groups in order to avoid collision between the two groups of submarines while operating in the INDIAN OCEAN. The operation of our submarines was under the control of the Sixth Fleet, so I had absolutely no connection with the operation of the German submarines. My service was purely logistic.
Q. Why were the German submarines based at BATAVIA, and what did they do with their seaplanes over there?
A. Formerly, the Germans had their base at PENANG, but as the number of mines in MOLUCCA Strait increased, and the patrol and defense against submarines in the northern section was strengthened by the British, it was felt safer for the German submarines to use SUNDA because of the change of route. The two seaplanes were to protect their submarines as they went through SUNDA Strait. Both of these planes were supplied by the Japanese Navy, but the personnel was German.
Q. Did you have any friction or any difficulties in working with the German liaison group?
A. None at all. The liaison was placed in the hands of our Naval Attache in SINGAPORE, and the question of liaison of German submarines was never brought to the commanding officer.
Q. Did your forces, at any time, that you were there, make a positive identified sinking of any U.S. submarine?
A. None at all.
Q. How serious were the effects of minefields laid by the U.S. and British, which you encountered in your area, and where were those most serious?
A. The effect of the mines was very serious, particularly the damage suffered by ships entering and leaving SINGAPORE. Among the larger ships damaged during the time that I was there were the ISE, HYUGA and the hospital ship HIKAWA MARU. At least 10 and perhaps as many as 15 or 16 ships and two or three small ships were sunk. Other areas heavily mined were around BANKA Strait and the entrance to BATAVIA. The larger of these mines were probably magnetic mines laid by planes. There might have been some which were laid by submarines also.
Q. Somewhat earlier, you commented on the lack of defense work which you noticed immediately on arrival in the southern area. Did you inspect your whole area, did you find it to be common in the southern areas that were not directly in contact with the enemy?
A. Yes, I covered my territory very shortly after taking over, and found the situation much the same in all the parts. The possible explanation of that situation is probably the fact that when the southern area reached the extreme stage, there was a feeling that this marked the end of the offensive operation. Especially in Army circles, there was an opinion, thereafter, that the work of the Army would be military administration, so that they should withdraw all except 200,000 men to other regions. When I went to SINGAPORE and saw what the situation was, I ordered that an effort should be made at once to strengthen the defense there, but I did not make much headway. By the end of the war, the situation was so bad that when the British came, they were surprised at the lack of preparation there.
Q. What was your position at the end of the war, and what did you then do?
A. I was CinC Tenth Area Fleet until the termination of the war. THen I became prisoner of war under the control of the British, and have since been in charge of the operation of Japanese ships engaged in repatriation of Japanese nationals under CinC MALAY British Naval Force.
Q. After receipt of the imperial Rescript concluding the war, did you have any difficulty keeping naval personnel in check or getting them to accept the Rescript?
A. No. Generally speaking, I have been able to maintain control of my center from the very moment of the termination of the war, the only exception being that about 300 naval personnel, mostly sailors and a sprinkling of warrant officers, fled immediately after they heard of the outcome. However,most of them have come back. Some, apparently trying to turn pirate, were themselves killed by native pirates. Some were killed by bandits, but most of the survivors have returned to SINGAPORE.
Q. What was the situation in respect of the Army on that same question in that area?
A. Very much the same as in the case of the Navy. The Army too had some who fled, some deserters.
Q. Do you have any comment ot make on your relationship with the Army in the SINGAPORE Area?
A. Since the war came to an end before there was any serious heavy fighting in SINGAPORE Area, there was no occasion for friction between the Army and Navy, especially as I had been instructed to work under the command of the CinC Southern Area. In so far as land operations were concerned, I tried to give positive cooperation to all activities on land. For that reason there was no difficulty with the Army, and no occasion in which I was criticized by the CinC Southern Army.
Q. Do you have any comment on the Army command in the south?
A. I have no criticism to make of the Army in the southern area aside from the reference I made to the sentiment that prevailed in the upper levels of the Army in the early stage of the southern operation, that that marked the completion of the campaign and they were ready to neglect all defensive work. The situation actually was that I made reference to the decision of the Army to withdraw all but 200,000 of the Army force in the south; and it was actually while this withdrawal was being made that counter-offensive at GUADALCANAL was made, so that the troops were shifted and used at GUADALCANAL against your counter-offensive there.
(During the following portion of the interrogation Allied Officers present included Col. R.H. Terrill, USAAF; Col. J.F. Rodenhauser, USAAF.)
Q. Will you describe briefly for us the air attacks of importance that were made in the SINGAPORE Area while you were there?
A. From the time that I arrived there on 15th January until the end of the war there were six raids, the number of planes, all B-29's, varying from 30 to about 120. In the case of the heaviest raids, the planes came in small formations in sort of waves, so it is possible that the same planes might have been counted two or more times. The last of these six raids took place early in March. The six raids took place while the Army Air Force was base dn CALCUTTA. Aside from those heavy raids, there were reconnaissance flights over the area, and also mine laying from planes coming in small numbers. The principal targets were the naval and merchant shipping ports, shipyards and the waterfront. In general, in the naval port the dock was seriously damaged, while in the merchant shipping port, wharves and warehouses were practically wiped out. The missiles dropped were principally bombs, but in two or three of the raids incendiary bombs were used to a considerable number, especially
against the warehouses. Human casualties were very low. The most serious loss to the Navy was the damage to the dock, while the Army felt most the destruction of the wharves and warehouses. The net result of these six raids did not very seriously affect our total fighting strength there, but it might have been quite serious had the raids been continued for ten or more times thereafter.
Q. Were the mine laying raids easily identified and could you then take immediate measures to sweep?
A. Altogether, mine laying raids were carried out perhaps a dozen or more times during the period of my stay there, and always on moonlit nights, taking advantage of the moon. On the first two or three occasions we were caught more or less unawares. After that we increased our observation and we could always detect their coming by means of radar; so we were able to tell fairly accurately where the mines were laid, but could not always take the necessary counter-measures because of insufficient mine-sweeping facilities. We could go to the areas in which we thought the mines had been laid, and sweep the region as best we could; after which we would try to put a ship through thinking it was all clear, but on several occasions the ship hit remaining mines. As stated yesterday the principal places where mines were laid were the east and west entrances to the SINGAPORE Harbor,the JOHORE Strait, and the channel leading toward BATAVIA.
Q. What was the approximate number of vessels sunk and seriously damaged by aerial mining in areas under your control?
A. I think this was mentioned in passing yesterday. The total damage from mines in the SINGAPORE Area was 14 o 15 ships, of which three or four small ones sank. The remaining ones were slightly damaged, and were able to get back into operation with little repair. There was also a few mine laying raids near PENANG and SOERABAJA. The total losses at those two points were probably 5 or 6, of which one or two sank. Hence, the total loss from mines laid by planes in the area for which I was responsible was around 20; and while that is not a very large number, we felt the loss quite heavily because the total number of ships that we had was small. Twenty out of a relatively small number was quite a big proportion.
Q. Did you attempt interception with your fighters of any of the air raids; if so, with what results?
A. As I stated yesterday, the naval air force in SINGAPORE was primarily a training unit with the exception of 50 or 60 planes that were assigned to protection of the oil areas in BALIKPAPAN and TARAKAN. Also, there were training units scattered through JAVA, PENANG and French INDO-CHINA; but because they were primarily training planes, they were not of much practical value in actual operations. Therefore, the basic policy was to reserve the Navy's planes for use to support sea operations, such as in the case of the appearance of Task Forces, etc. Consequently, in the numerous raids, including mine laying raids against SINGAPORE, the interception was left to Army planes belonging to the Third Air Army with headquarters in SINGAPORE, under the command of Lieutenant General KINOSHITA. This Army had approximately 1000 planes which were deployed in supporting land operations as far apart as BURMA and NEW GUINEA; and in the raids of the B-29's against SINGAPORE, these Army planes were used for interception. In addition, the Army had quite a number of planes for the protection of PALEMBANG. During my stay there, most of the good Navy planes were ordered back to JAPAN, only those of little actual value being left in SINGAPORE, which situation was natural enough since the primary purpose of the Naval Air Force there was training. As soon as the pilots reached a certain stage they were taken back to JAPAN, but I felt that the recall to JAPAN was going a little faster than I considered practical or wise.
Q. Do you recall what success the Army had in interceptions?
A. During the time that I was there, the only result that I heard of was when the Army planes intercepted a British Task Force which approached the PALEMBANG Area two or three times, either late in January or early February. Just what the figures were I do not know either. I also heard that a few Army planes had been sent out against the American Task Force off French INDO-CHINA, but I have no knowledge of the results. The general policy, as already stated, was that the Navy should use its planes to support sea operations. As well trained pilots and practically all serviceable planes were consistently being sent back to JAPAN, I was forced to pick up wrecks and scraps and repair them, and use them for training purposes. I was able to recover 30 or 40 planes in that way and save them for the last stand there, when your landing should be undertaken. The policy was much the same with the Army. In other words, they too were saving up their planes for the last stand. Consequently, the Army planes which went up to intercept B-29's were in relatively small numbers. That may explain in part the small results obtained in the air combats in which the Army planes engaged. Toward the end the Army planes too were being brought back to JAPAN in large numbers, so that the number of those remaining in SINGAPORE from the Army as well as the Navy had gotten very small. One other raid which I should have mentioned took place near the end of July, raiders composed of 1 B-24 and 8 P-38's, probably American craft, coming from BORNEO region principally for reconnaissance purposes. Two or three of our Army planes took to the air and engaged in air combat. While I received no formal report from the Army, I heard that we lost two planes and that the enemy suffered no loss.
Q. Admiral, was there any particular reason why you were assigned as Chief of Staff Combined Fleet on Admiral KOGA's Staff; for example, the peculiarities of the strategic situation at that time with which you were especially familiar?
Combined Fleet 1943-44
A. My predecessor was Vice Admiral UGAKI who was injured over BOUGAINVILLE at the time that Admiral YAMAMOTO was shot down. That was 18 APRIL 1943. They were in separate planes but both were shot down. As the injury was serious and as Adm. UGAKI was confined to bed, it was necessary for the Chief of Staff as well as Commander in Chief to have a successor. So when Admiral KOGA was appointed Commander in Chief and left TOKYO for TRUK, he left work with the Chief of the Navy General Staff, Admiral NAGANO, that if upon arrival at TRUK he should find Admiral UGAKI in too serious condition to continue as Chief of Staff, I should be sent down to replace him. Admiral KOGA discovered at TRUK that Admiral UGAKI's injuries were very serious, and I was ordered to proceed there at once.
Q. Will you give us briefly the movements of the Commander in Chief during the ensuing year, during the time you were Chief of Staff?
A. Admiral KOGA arrived at TRUK and took over the post 23 April; his flagship was the MUSASHI. On 23 May he came on the flagship to TOKYO for discussions with headquarters, proceeding from there to KURE and the INLAND SEA in June for repairs and some training. He returned to TRUK aboard his flagship in August and remained there until some time in October when, anticipating the arrival of an American Task Force in the MARSHALLS Area, he went to BROWN (ENIWETOK). But as the American Task Forces did not make appearance, he returned once more to TRUK. He was in BROWN about a week, so the entire trip was between 10 and 20 October. On 11 February 1944, he once more came to TOKYO for further consultation with headquarters, and this time went to PALAU. This was 24 February, and it was on 31 March when he was proceeding from PALAU to DAVAO by plane that he was killed in an air accident resulting from bad weather conditions.
Q. At the time of the visit to TOKYO for the conference in May 1943, what was the estimate of American intention, and what new dispositions or orders were issued consequent to that conference?
A. Admiral KOGA's purpose in coming to TOKYO in May 1943 was twofold: first, since at that time our operations in ATTU and KISKA Areas up north were just beginning, he wanted to guide those operations from as close a point as possible, and consequently preferred to be in TOKYO at the time rather than so far south; second, he did not with to feel bound to his predecessor's policy and wanted to let the Imperial General Headquarters know his feelings in the matter. Admiral KOGA's basic policy in regard to naval operations as told to me was that the one chance of success lay in a decisive naval engagement. We had just completed what might be called the first stage operations, and were just entering the second stage operations, and it was Admiral KOGA's belief that that it would not do at this stage to rely upon passive defense plans, that we must take the offensive. There were those who told him that this point must be defended and that that point must be defended, etc., but it was his conviction that we must concentrate in one big decisive fleet engagement, which he fleet had at least a fifty percent chance of success if such engagement could be made to take place during 1943.
Q. His plan then was dependent on his being able to get the U.S. Fleet into such an engagement, to draw it into such an engagement?
A. I wish to add before answering your last question that during the period that Admiral KOGA was in TOKYO, between May and August, there was a strong opinion in the Imperial General Headquarters that,m as in the case of the American Fleet, it would be wise for the CinC Combined Fleet to have his quarters on land in TOKYO, principally in order to attain the closest possible coordination between the Fleet and the Imperial Japanese Headquarters. Admiral KOGA opposed this opinion, however, on the ground that circumstances of the American Fleet and the Japanese Fleet were different, and that in his case he must personally assume the leadership of the fleet; and hence, insisted upon proceeding again to TRUK. He felt that the operations around GUADALCANAL and vicinity were against us, and that the American Naval Forces were bound to push farther and farther north. Just against what point their thrust would be made, of course, could not be guessed; but KOGA felt that if he only waited at TRUK, that would give him a chance for a decisive engagement against the American Fleet when they should proceed north, irrespective of what particular point they might strike. He, therefore, concentrated the full fleet strength at TRUK instead of sending a part of it further west as some advised. In other works, it was not a plan of any positive action to draw the American Fleet into a decisive action, but rather to wait until the American Fleet came up; and he felt that they were bound to come up if he only waited.
Two attempts were made at such decisive engagements; one, already mentioned, being in October when it was anticipated that the American Task Force was proceeding north. That is when Admiral KOGA went to BROWN Atoll. Before that, near the end of September, information was received that American Task Forces were approaching MARSHALLS Area. Admiral KOGA, himself, waited at TRUK with the main force of the fleet held in readiness, also Admiral OZAWA's Air Fleet and the Second Fleet under Admiral KURITA. But on this
occasion, also, the Task Forces failed to make an appearance and nothing came of it. In the latter case mentioned, namely, the end of September, Admiral OZAWA's Air Fleet and Admiral KURITA's Second Fleet remained at BROWN Atoll for approximately a week, and then returned to TRUK; KOGA himself remained at TRUK all the time. Those were the two occasions when KOGA undertook to engage the enemy in a decisive naval engagement.
Q. What was the reason behind movement of the striking forces from TRUK to BROWN on both occasions?
A. The information transmitted through TOKYO was that the American Task Force would make its appearance somewhere north of the MARSHALLS, in which case BROWN would be most advantageous base for our striking force. Just what the source of that information was, I do not know.
Q. Admiral, you mentioned earlier the ALEUTIAN Operation at KISKA; what was the decision with respect to the ALEUTIANS, and the reason for it?
A. There appears to have been considerable difference of opinion between the Army and Navy as regards future policy for the ALEUTIANS, the Navy favoring fighting to the last man while the Army felt that this would be a waste of manpower if there was no prospect of ultimate success of the Northern Operations. The final decision as rendered by the Imperial General Headquarters was that it would serve no useful purpose to fight on, and, hence, it was decided to withdraw. When Admiral KOGA came to TOKYO, it was his hope that with KISKA and the rest of the ALEUTIANS as a base he might get a chance for a decisive engagement with your naval forces somewhere in the northern waters; but by the time he reached TOKYO the situation had already gone too far for him to undertake execution of any such plan.
Q. What had been the object of the Northern Operation? Was it to obtain a base for the purpose just mentioned?
A. My memory on this point is somewhat hazy, but I believe that our object in occupying the area of natural resources in the south was not a strategic one. The purpose was to get the materials necessary for existence and our war effort. But the Navy felt that in order to hold this very expansive area it would be necessary to get far outlying lookout points, and while we might not be able to hold on to such outlying points, we must at least get them once, even if we were to lose them to the enemy again later. It was in pursuance of that policy that we occupied or tried to occupy such distant bases as the ALEUTIANS, RABAUL, and MIDWAY.
Q. Was this particular objective--that is, the Western ALEUTIANS--included in the plan over the objections of the Army? That is, was it primarily sponsored by the Navy?
A. No, it was not against Army opposition that the ALEUTIAN bases were included in this plan. The idea originated with YAMAMOTO who, when laying down a plan of Naval operations, felt that the holding of such outlying bases was essential to an overall success of the Navy's plans. When that idea was transferred to Imperial General Headquarters, the Army took the view that if the Navy fleet that such a policy is essential then wee give it support. They fell in readily with the Navy's proposal, the difference of opinion arose only when the time came for the withdrawal from KISKA. The reason for the Navy favoring defense to the last man was that since they had gone there in the first place with the expectation of having at some future time to lose it, why not fight it out to the last man? Against that, there was considerable Army objection.
Q. The IMperial General Headquarters finally making the decision to evacuate KISKA?
A. Yes, that decision was made by the Imperial General Headquarters.
Q. At the time of the conference in TOKYO Area, in summer 1943, did KOGA's staff make an estimate, or did headquarters present an estimate which set forth the major threat or danger to the perimeter at that time; if so, what was the danger considered to be?
A. During the summer of 1943, there was a difference of opinion between the central authorities and the fleet. The central authoritites were of the belief that the attack or threat would be more from the west than from the east, and that the east attack would come later. That was due to the fact that ITALY fell about this time. The central authorities felt that the U.S. Fleet together with the British Fleet would attack from the west after crossing the INDIAN OCEAN. KOGA, however, felt that as long as the U.S. Fleet was in the east, the main fleet force should be kept out east as a threat. The central authorities agreed with KOGA finally and decided to let the fleet keep its own air strength without diminishing it, and just strengthen defenses of the west. To strengthen defense of the west, central authorities felt it best to send planes from JAPAN. The strengthening of the west was to be taken care of by central authorities, the fleet did not bother with it. That was the policy attempted, but actually it was not carried out; western defenses were not actually strengthened. Probably central authorities were not able actually to carry out that step.
Q. Was it the estimate then of central authorities that Allied forces would perhaps land in MALAYA, and otherwise make an effort down towards SINGAPORE?
A. That was their estimate.
Q. In speaking of the threat form the east, how did the staff locate that threat; was it directly from the east geographically or from the RABAUL Area?
A. They made only very rough estimates, and as to detailed estimates as to when what forces would arrive where, they were always wrong. Those forecasts were worse than weather forecasts. Roughly, however, they believed that the attacks would come to the Eastern CAROLINES Area and MARSHALLS or from the north through the ALEUTIANS and HOKKAIDO; but the biggest probability in their view was straight east through HAWAII and MIDWAY. That was the biggest threat in that they felt there was bound to be fleet action and that was the strongest fleet action route, because at that stage of the war the Japanese Navy felt that the U.S. Navy was still playing the main part as contrasted with the Army. Consequently, while there might be small landings on small islands sufficient to support Naval operations, no major landings would be undertaken; hence the view that the principal threat would be from the east and to the CAROLINES Area. Of the three possibilities, the one from the north was considered the least likely.
Q. At this same time, what was the staff estimate of the situation in the RABAUL, SOLOMONS, general South PACIFIC Area, and were major decisions made relative to strengthening that region or attempting new strategy there?
A. As far as the SOLOMONS Area was concerned they assumed that the situation had been settled. In the RABAUL Area the operation was very difficult, but the fleet was not in favor of increasing its strength, and insisted on using only their existing strength because at that time KOGA was still in favor of that decisive battle without spreading his strength. By August and September in the RABAUL Area, air strength was considerably diminished. The Command there had asked for air support time and time again but the Commander in Chief could not send any of his own planes. Then after the failure of the decisive surface engagement planned from BROWN, Admiral KOGA finally decided to send a small number of carrier-based planes to be used for a short time at RABAUL. The actual strength that was sent to RABAUL was most of the planes of OZAWA's Air Fleet. They were to be used for a very short time, about a ten day period, and then returned to the fleet so as to maintain the strength of the fleet as a whole. Looking back on it now, this was a bad mistake because having sent the carrier planes to RABAUL for a period of about ten days, on about the very day they were supposed to return, the occupation of BOUGAINVILLE and SHORTLAND took place; and in spite of the fact they didn't intend to use these planes for such operations, they just couldn't stand by and not employ them. They were finally employed against these U.S. landing operations and the majority were lost. With the loss of these planes, the fleet as a whole lost considerable efficiency.
Q. What was the exact date again? How many planes from how many carriers went down there?
A. As I recall, it was the very end of October that they were sent to RABAUL. There was a total of about 250 planes from , I think four or five carriers, all the fighters from Admiral OZAWA's fleet. On about 10 November, when they were saying we will return tomorrow, the BOUGAINVILLE Operation started and these planes were employed against that operation. They did attain some results on the 11th. Shortly after the BOUGAINVILLE landing operation started, KOGA ordered the Second Fleet to RABAUL to carry out counter-attacks. OZAWA, having led those planes originally to RABAUL, was already there with his land-based air force. The plan was to carry out heavy counter-attacks. Unfortunately the very day after KURITA's Second Fleet arrived, the fleet was subjected to heavy bombing raids and suffered heavy casualties; no ships sunk but heavily damaged.
Q. What dates were they damaged, and what was the attack from?
A. I do not remember exactly what day, it was shortly after the BOUGAINVILLE Operation started. I believe it was somewhere between 15 and 20 November and I believe that the raids were carried out by carrier-based planes from U.S. Task Forces. As i recall, it was not the attacks of 5 or 11 November. Admiral KURITA had not arrived until after that so it was neither one of those strikes. OZAWA's planes did participate in the raids you mentioned but KURITA's fleet had not yet arrived. (This statement is corrected below.)
Q. What results did you have reported from the Naval Air Force, based ashore, of their attacks on the American Task Force?
A. I do not remember exactly OZAWA's reports but I recall that they did attack a Task Force to the north of BOUGAINVILLE, at which time one carrier was badly damaged; I do not recall the exact date. There was another Task Force to the south of BOUGAINVILLE, as I recall. Three carriers, including an escort carrier probably, were claimed sunk and 7 or 8 transports sunk or badly damaged. Later it was found that the reported carriers turned out to be special type landing vessels.
Q. A little earlier in that same area, the Allied Forces had occupied SALAMAUA, LAE and FINSCHHAFEN, that was in September and October. How much did that affect the status or RABAUL, or the naval plans; how much concern, in other words, was that to the Commander in Chief?
A. Earlier, RABAUL-SOLOMONS area was looked upon with much importance. As a matter of fact, YAMAMOTO had himself gone to RABAUL to direct operations at one time. But by the time KOGA took over, he considered the situation fairly well settled, and did not feel that it was necessary at that time to risk interfering with the strength of his fleet. It wasn't that he did nothing, but that he sent only enough strength to be of nuisance value, but never to interfere with fleet strength.
Q. What was his re -estimate from the loss of SALAMAUA, LAE and FINSCHHAFEN? How did it affect the RABAUL situation; did it at all?
A. I do not remember exactly what effect the loss of SALAMAUA, LAE and FINSCHHAFEN had upon RABAUL, but as I said earlier RABAUL carried on with limited air strength only. At this time, JAPAN's air power was at its lowest. When KOGA took over, the entire air outlook was the poorest; after this it was again built up. KOGA, having been asked time and time again for air reinforcement, finally sent planes from the carriers down there to reinforce RABAUL.
Q. In other words, you did not consider the loss of these three places of particular concern?
A. We didn't consider it important enough to make any changes in plans.
Q. The Task Force strikes that were carried out on 5 and 11 November 1943--what, if any, effect did those strikes have on subsequent Japanese operations?
A. At the time, our air strength at RABAUL consisted of the planes that had been sent there from Admiral OZAWA's carrier, plus 100 or less land planes which were stationed at RABAUL. These were used in intercepting your Task Force aircraft on the 5th and 11th. I believe that the air loss was not a very serious one. As for the loss on sea, we did not have a very strong surface force there. Such as we had were the vessels which had been employed in the operations in the SOLOMONS Area. I believe that the damage to those vessels not very serious. Consequently, the net effect of those two attacks on subsequent operations around RABAUL was not a very serious one. However, the BOUGAINVILLE landing operations which took place immediately after those two attacks necessitated our retaining the carrier planes which were intended to be sent back to Admiral OZAWA's Fleet; and as most of those were lost at BOUGAINVILLE, the effect of that on subsequent operations was very serious as it meant practically the complete loss of the carrier-based planes.
Q. Yesterday, you mentioned the movement of Admiral KURITA's Force to the south--KAVIENG-RABAUL Area--and mentioned the serious damage to that force. What were the composition, movements and cause of loss to KURITA's Force?
A. I do not remember the exact date of this occurrence, but I believe it was just after the BOUGAINVILLE Operation started. The purpose of the movement southward was to cooperate with the carrier-based planes which had been sent from Admiral OZAWA's Fleet, in order to check the BOUGAINVILLE Operations. However, this fleet was discovered while it was proceeding from TRUK to RABAUL and was attacked the day after reaching RABAUL. The Second Fleet, at the time, had been practically undamaged, and of that force Admiral KURITA took the crack units south on this mission, consisting of three cruiser divisions numbering 10 or 12 units, and one destroyer squadron containing one cruiser and about a dozen destroyers. The attack I believe was by carrier-based planes plus perhaps some land planes. Our force was bombed while at anchor in the harbor; some tried to] pull out and were bombed outside. There might have been also a few torpedo attacks. The losses suffered were as follows: one destroyer sunk and 5 or 6 damaged, of which one or perhaps two were so seriously damaged as not to be able to proceed to TRUK for repair. The others were sent back to TRUK for repairs and some of those were brought back to JAPAN for major repairs. As a result, although the Southern Fleet was not rendered completely inoperational, there is no question but that it was seriously hurt.
(Note: Admiral FUKUDOME later corrected these dates by the following statement:
According to the statement of Commander NAKAJIMA, who was Communication Officer under Admiral KOGA, Admiral KURITA's Fleet left TRUK on 3 November and arrived at RABAUL on the evening of the 4th, just in time to be attacked on the morning of the 5th. The date of the flight of Admiral OZAWA's carrier planes to RABAUL took place on 1 and 2 November, the majority going on the 1st with the Admiral himself. The date of Admiral KOGA's departure from TRUK for TOKYO was the 10th and not the 11th of June.)
Q. How long did Admiral OZAWA stay down at RABAUL when he went there in November 1943?
A. I believe that Admiral OZAWA returned to TRUK around 20 November. The planes remained under Admiral OZAWA's command. He was to engage in joint operations with the commanding officer of the local force, in the same way that joint operations were carried on around the time of Admiral YAMAMOTO's death in April--the commanding officer of the air force going in to cooperate with the fleet officer. Incidentally, the commanding office with whom Admiral OZAWA cooperated at RABAUL was Vice Admiral KUSAKA, CinC Southeast Area Fleet.
Q. After you received positive intelligence that the American Forces were conducting landing operations at TARAWA and MAKIN, what directives did you issue and what changes did you make in the surface fleet disposition?
A. As stated yesterday, Admiral KOGA's idea was to save up his full strength for one decisive engagement. That was the reason why he disregarded the constant request for air reinforcement from RABAUL, because the only planes that could be sent were carrier planes. By in November, as BOUGAINVILLE landing operations commenced, he was forced to send his air strength to RABAUL. As it turned out, practically all of them were lost at RABAUL and BOUGAINVILLE. Consequently, the Fleet air strength was almost completely lost, and although the GILBERT fight appeared to be the last chance for a decisive fight, the fact that the fleet's air strength had been so badly depleted enabled us to send only very small air support to TARAWA and MAKIN. The almost complete loss of carrier planes was a mortal blow to the fleet since it would require six months for replacement, and it was felt that it would take until May or June of 1944 to complete that replacement. In the interim, any fighting with carrier force was rendered impossible. The net result was that operation plans were revised early in February; that is, plans regarding operations in the GILBERTS and MARSHALLS.
Q. In the meantime was a determined effort being made to build up the land-based naval air force in the MARSHALLS?
A. Yes, every effort was being made at that time to strengthen the land-based planes in the MARSHALLS. But aircraft production at that time had fallen to the lowest level, and although effort was made to bring all possible planes from the other fronts, the total number gathered there was very small.
Q. To go back, briefly, was the sending of Admiral OZAWA's air strength down to RABAUL done under pressure of Naval or Imperial General Headquarters, or was it purely a decision by Admiral KOGA?
A. This movement was based upon Admiral KOGA's own decision. However, as you will recall, the Imperial General Headquarters had not always seen eye to eye with Admiral KOGA regarding the question of one decisive battle, and the view in the Imperial General Headquarters was that carrier planes should be despatched to any section where chances of success appeared. On this particular occasion, however, the movement was undertaken solely upon Admiral KOGA's decision without any pressure from Imperial General Headquarters.
Q. A brief Task Force strike was made on KWAJALEIN on 4 December, shortly after the GILBERT landing. Did that strike indicate to the staff future intended American operations, and did it in any was affect their dispositions?
A. From some time prior to that, our fleet authorities had been anticipating landing operations around the MARSHALLS. The brief attack on KWAJALEIN strengthened that feeling on our part, but since we had already lost practically the whole of our carrier-based air strength, we were forced to give up the idea of a decisive battle in that region and it was necessary to revise operational plans.
Q. What generally was the employment of the major fleet units between the GILBERT landing and the KWAJALEIN landing on 31 January?
A. They remained at TRUK.
Q. Any special employment?
A. The purpose in holding the main units of the fleet at TRUK was to use them with the support of such land-based air forces as we had there against your Task Force, should it come so far out.
Q. What was the staff estimate of the American intentions after TARAWA landing and what were the reasons?
A. At the time, we thought there were two major possibilities, regarding subsequent American intentions: one was a counter-offensive in the direction of the MARSHALLS, and the other toward PONAPE and KUSAIE. Of the two, we thought there was a greater probability of an attack in the region of the MARSHALLS. There was considered also a third possibility, namely, a direct thrust in the direction of TRUK. However, it was not until the attack in the direction of MARSHALLS actually began that we were in a position to know what your exact intentions would be.
Q. In mentioning the possibility of a thrust at TRUK, did you consider it as a possible landing operation with intent to bypass the MARSHALLS?
A. One thrust from the direction of KUSAIE and PONAPE. I do not mean a direct thrust without touching anywhere, but an island to island advance. I thought that the greatest possibility was the MARSHALLS; but until the situation appeared quite certain to me, I continued to remain at TRUK.
Q. Did you consider the defense of TRUK at that time adequate to defend against a landing operation of the same scale as that which went on in KWAJALEIN?
A. The defense of TRUK in 1943 was extremely weak, and I believe it could have been easily taken. The strengthening of the defense there began after that, commencing in 1944. There was not Army force there and the Navy force consisted of a land party with not more than 1,000 men. The fleet, of course, was there, but since it was without carrier air force worth mentioning, had the landing been undertaken there, the fleet would have been either destroyed there or would have had to flee. The situation was that everything possible had been sent to RABAUL; in fact, it was virtually empty.
Q. When the landing started at KWAJALEIN, or when you had definite realization that landings were made in the MARSHALLS, what orders were issued; what new dispositions were taken?
A. By the time that your landing around the MARSHALLS commenced, we were able to estimate fairly well the strategic situation in that region. There was no change in Admiral KOGA's fundamental policy which was the need of one decisive engagement, but the new situation forced the following change: namely, a decision to make the MARIANAS and the Western CAROLINES the last line of defense. The fleet air force was practically gone so it was decided that all possible land-based planes, both in JAPAN and at the various fronts, should be concentrated in that region for a big air combat, with surface units participating to as great an extent as possible. Admiral KOGA was determined to lead our forces in this final engagement himself. In pursuance of this new plan, Admiral KOGA came to TOKYO aboard his flagship on 17 February, leaving TRUK on the 11th, for consultation with central authorities, ordering the rest of the fleet to a point west of the Western CAROLINES.
Q. West of PALAU?
A. In greater detail, he ordered the Second Fleet under Admiral KURITA to PALAU, and Admiral OZAWA's Fleet to Singapore for training.
Q. Were these decisions made at TRUK approved by Central Headquarters or the Naval General Staff prior to his departure?
A. It was specifically for the purpose of getting the approval of Central Headquarters to this new distribution that he came to TOKYO, and the approval was readily given, not only by Central Headquarters, but generally approved by both the Army and Navy--the Navy in particular deciding to concentrate all their force in this region; and it was decided that the strengthening of our forces there should be completed by June.
Q. That is, in the MARIANAS?
A. PALAU and west of the CAROLINES.
Q. It was recognized, at this time, that the MARSHALLS were lost. Is that correct?
Q. How much would you say that the effort at RABAUL to hold on the SOLOMONS contributed to the loss of the MARSHALLS?
A. Because of the insistence at RABAUL that the SOLOMONS should be kept under our control at all costs, its air strength had been maintained at the highest level possible; but there came a time where that reinforcement could not be continued. There is no question that the concentration of our air strength at RABAUL weakened defenses at other points, especially at TRUK, which, as already mentioned, was practically empty at one time. The defenses of the MARSHALLS had been started somewhat earlier and we thought the landing force there was adequate. However, the loss of air strength at RABAUL, which we had intended should be used later around MARSHALLS, had the effect of weakening our effort at MARSHALLS considerably.
Q. Whose insistence was it that the RABAUL-SOLOMON Area should be held at all cost, and what was Admiral KOGA's attitude towards this?
A. It was the idea of Imperial General Headquarters that RABAUL and the region thereabouts should be defended to the last. Admiral KOGA was in agreement as regards the necessity of holding it to the last, but not to the extent of throwing everything into it. His contention was that it should be held as long as possible with what forces they had there.
Q. Did the staff consider that the Army was contributing its share in the defense of the RABAUL position, or was the logical responsibility principally naval?
A. The idea that RABAUL should be taken and held as an out-post originated with the Navy, but the Army readily fell in line with that idea and cooperated; so that the operation there was one of joint Army and Navy responsibility.
Q. You have frequently pointed out the decisive nature of the loss of naval air strength in the RABAUL Area. What comment do you make on the suggestion that the air strength for that operation should have been furnished by the Army rather than the Navy?
A. The general agreement between the Army and the Navy in the Imperial General Headquarters regarding RABAUL and that region was that the Navy should supply most of the air strength including land-based planes. However, by that time we lost so heavily it became necessary to send carrier-based planes there. The Army had sent some planes to RABAUL, perhaps less than one-fifth of the number of Navy planes there. The Army, however, was not able to effect replacement of the planes which they sent to RABAUL, so all subsequent reinforcement had to come from the Navy side. The Army was engaged over a very wide front where their planes were in great need, especially in such distant places as BURMA, so the Navy fully understood the difficulty the Army was facing there, and understood that it was not possible for the Army to do more than it was doing at RABAUL.
Q. You stated that the Fleet was moved out of TRUK about 10 February. This, of course, was before the conference in TOKYO. What was the reason for that early movement of the Fleet?
A. By that time your landing operations in the MARSHALLS had already commenced so that the new strategic position was quite clear to us. The movement out of TRUK on 10 February was, therefore, made for two reasons: first, the feeling that the preparation for the next stage should be made as quickly as possible; and second, it was anticipated that if the fleet were to remain in TRUK, it would be subjected to almost certain destruction if attacked by your Task Force, since it had virtually no air support.
Q. A photo reconnaissance of TRUK was made in early February, my Marine Corps planes. What the fact of that flight known to you, and did it somewhat influence the subsequent movement?
A. Yes, we knew that LIBERATORS made a reconnaissance flight over the island, and that strengthened our feeling that the Fleet, if allowed to remain there, would be subject to attack from your Task Force in the near future; and, consequently, to that extent, served to speed up our withdrawal from that island.
Q. Why then was the sizeable amount of merchant shipping left in TRUK?
A. Some of those merchant ships were those which were engaged in sending supplies to RABAUL, All had been subjected to attacks from your planes, and although there were many there, many of them were so badly damaged as not to be operational.
Q. What groups participated in the staff conference in TOKYO after Admiral KOGA's arrival there?
A. Since there were many subjects to be discussed in detail regarding what airplanes should be sent, ship movements, questions of supplies and so forth, he brought the whole of his staff to confer with practically the full staff of the Naval Section of the Imperial General Staff. Admiral KOGA had one or two meetings with the Chiefs of the Naval Staff and the Navy Ministers, but did not take any part or attend the staff discussions.
Q. What were the important high level decisions arrived at in these conferences?
A. The decision of primary importance made at that conference was the adoption in principle of Admiral KOGA's plan; namely, that we must absolutely hold the line of defense between the MARIANAS and West CAROLINES, and that the necessary defensive preparation for that must be completed by June. To that end it was decided to concentrate the whole of the naval strength in that region, also to bring in a new 31st Army composed of three divisions and to build necessary airfields and coastal defense works. I advanced the view that if we were to hold that line, it would be necessary to concentrate in that area not only the Navy's air force but also the full air force of the Army. Unfortunately, my contention was not accepted by the Army, but they agreed that they would hold themselves ready to give their support when subsequent developments should make such support necessary. I left TOKYO with the request that the Army's full air strength should also be concentrated in that area.
Q. What reasons did the Army advance for not giving full support to that plan?
A. I did not discuss this subject direct with the Army authorities, It was carried through the Navy Section of the Imperial General Headquarters, but the reason given was that since the Army was carrying on operations over such a wide flung front, they could not interrupt their operations on any of those fronts without seriously affecting subsequent developments. But should it develop that a decisive engagement was to take place in the CAROLINES and MARIANAS region, then they would come to the assistance with their air force. Actually, however, that assistance never came.
Q. I assume that the conferees received reports of the Task Force strikes on TRUK on 16 and 17 February. What was the nature of the reports they received at Headquarters?
A. Generally speaking, the feeling of the conferees when they got this news was that what they had anticipated had come to pass. In other words, there was no great surprise. One thing that hurt about the attack on TRUK was the fact that a combat corps, numbering 50 or 60 planes which, with a little more training, could be sent out to the front, was completely wiped out there. Although we lost a considerable number of supply ships in the harbor, that was not seriously felt because the routes on which they would subsequently have been employed were virtually cut off anyway. There was one other effect of this TRUK attack which might be mentioned, and that is, we had started strengthening the line of defense on the island beginning in 1944 and it was scheduled for completion by June. When we received this first attack we went to work in earnest to build up the defense, with the result that it was completed in about one month. Upon completion of the works around the middle of April, the local command informed the fleet that thereafter they would take care of themselves. What the outcome would have been if they received such an attack, I do not know.
Q. This strength then included some additional troops?
A. In addition to a slight increase in the number of naval personnel, one and a half Army divisions numbering about 30,000.
Q. Was that in January or February?
A. They trickled in, beginning January and finishing by the end of March, but the main strength, I believe, came early in February.
Q. What, if any, decisions were made at the conference with respect to RABAUL?
A. The decision made at that time regarding RABAUL was the stand should be made and with the strength on hand, not to send any more reinforcements. In connection with that decision, there came a report from the Army and Navy senior officers in RABAUL that they felt that they could put up a good fight on their own in a conflict.
Q. On the arrival at PALAU at the end of February, what was the defensive strength there, and were any immediate steps taken at Admiral KOGA's initiation to improve the situation?
A. At that time, three decisions had been taken in TOKYO. The first was to increase the air strength. The First Air Fleet was organized and already training. That fleet was brought under Admiral KOGA's command, and was shortly to be sent to the MARIANAS. This southward movement began about 20 February and received attacks as soon as it got there. Second, to increase the Army strength in that region, principally by bringing reinforcements from the Chinese fronts. Thus was organized the 31st Army and its headquarters was soon established in the south. Necessary measures were taken for rushing material for construction of various defensive works, airfields, etc. The third decision was that local naval commanders should be appointed, all to operate under the CinC Central PACIFIC Area Fleet, who was Vice-Admiral NAGUMO. These newly appointed commanding officers arrived at the various southern points between the end of February and early part of March. As already suggested, the defenses in this region at the time of Admiral KOGA's arrival were extremely weak, owing to the fact that until that time this region had been looked upon as constituting the inner line.
Q. What were the effects, if any, of the Task Force strike on the MARIANAS on 22 February?
A. The newly-organized First Air Fleet began its southward movement on the 20th and was expected to arrive on the 22nd or 23rd, but owing to bad weather conditions only a part of it got away on schedule, so that the number which had arrived by the time of the Task Force attack was probably less than 100, including 18 fighters and the rest being medium land-based planes, reconnaissance planes, and bombers. As this attack occurred while our planes were in the course of their movement to the south, and were not expecting an attack, they were not able to put up a good fight, although they were considered to be crack units. Of this newly-trained fleet, approximately one-half of that number was lost, and since this took place when were just commencing to strengthen our defenses there, the loss was a considerable blow.
Q. Were there any further changes in plan in consequence of this attack?
A. When Admiral KOGA proceeded to PALAU, he announced his decision to hold that line until death. You will recall that the decision of the Imperial General Headquarters was that it must absolutely be held; and Admiral KOGA's feeling was that should that line be lost, there would be no further chance for JAPAN. To that end, he chose two bases from which he would guide our operations. If the next strike should come north, he would command from SAIPAN. If the strike should be directed southward, he would command from DAVAO. Whichever the direction, he was determined to make his last stand and consequently to die at either SAIPAN or DAVAO in defending this line. One reason for choosing land bases from which to guide the operations was that there was a decision to change from a decisive naval engagement to an engagement in which land-based air forces would constitute the main strength, but with the fleet units cooperating as fully as possible.
Q. That concept being based to a large extent on the lack of air groups trained for operation from carriers?
A. Yes, that is exactly the reason for the change in plan. As I mentioned earlier, it took 6 months for training of carrier-based plane pilots, and it was not until May 1944 that replacements had been completed for the carriers that were first used in June. I do not exactly remember the date but, by that time, Admiral KOGA was already dead, and in this June engagement Admiral OZAWA was commanding.
Q. Were there any significant operations or events connected with the fleet during that last month of March and prior to the appearance of the Task Force?
A. I do not think that there was anything worth mentioning in the way of fleet operations at that time. We concentrated on strengthening the defense along that line.
Q. What directives were issued or what action was taken when the American Task Force was first picked up approaching PALAU near the end of March?
A. The first information regarding the approach of the Task Force was brought by scouting planes from TRUK on the 28th and repeated on the 29th, but since the number of reconnaissance planes was small, we could not learn from that source whether they had seen the whole Task Force or only a part. By noon of the 29th, we estimated that the Task Force attack would begin on the 30th; so all the ships, including merchant ships, were moved out and the Second Fleet was ordered to stand by ready for action. As already stated, we could not judge on the basis of information at hand whether this would be a repetition of earlier brief air attacks or if it was the beginning of a massive scale advance towards what we called the last line of defense; so the order was issued for each local commander to defend with such force as he had locally and to watch developments. Should the enemy thrust be concentrated in any one locality, the subsequent concentrations would be ordered.
Q. Briefly, what were the results and what were the effects of the Task Force strike on PALAU on 31 March?
A. On the morning of the 30th, the situation suggested that we might have a Task Force attack on PALAU, and an air rad did take place on PALAU by part of the Task Force air force. Our scouting planes in the MARIANAS and West CAROLINES went out bt reported that they saw nothing in the morning; but in the afternoon of that day, it was reported that a large transport group was proceeding westward from the ADMIRALTY Islands. We therefore estimated that no attack was intended against the MARIANAS, but rather against the Western CAROLINES, which would constitute the southern part of the area to which Admiral KOGA referred as the line of defense. in other words, that your Task Force might undertake a landing in Western NEW GUINEA. That estimate was furnished on the basis of two facts--that on the 30th a part of the Task Force which attacked PALAU kept on going westward, and that this large transport group was seen proceeding west from the ADMIRALTIES?
Q. What subsequently developed?
A. The measures adopted by Admiral KOGA to meet this new development were as follows: first, most of the fighter planes in the MARIANAS were moved to PALAU, but the attack planes were left behind because an attack could be made from that position. Second, Admiral OZAWA's training fleet--air fleet in SINGAPORE, was ordered to proceed to DAVAO by 2 April, because these planes, although not sufficiently trained for effective use in support of fleet operations, could be used from land bases. It was intended that from DAVAO these planes should proceed further south to be used against the landing anticipate din the western part of NEW GUINEA. Admiral KOGA himself, in pursuance of his plan to command and guide the operations from a central position in the southern area in case the next American thrust should be directed southward, went to DAVAO on the evening of 31 March, leaving the command in the MARIANAS and Western CAROLINES to Vice Admiral NAGUMO, CinC Central PACIFIC Fleet. It was in the course of this flight to DAVAO n the evening of the 31st that he met death in the air accident. Regarding the air combat and results, the majority of the planes that participated in the air combat belonged to the First Air FLeet, and as those planes had been fairly well-trained, Admiral KOGA himself placed considerable reliance on them, but as it turned out the results did not come up to his expectations. The fighters that were sent out from PALAU were virtually wiped out. The other planes were hardly more successful, and the anticipated landing in the south did not materialize, so that the operations upon which Admiral KOGA had staked his very life ended in utter failure.
Q. Describe briefly the arrangements for the movement of the staff, and the result of those flights.
A. The original plan was that Headquarters should be in SAIPAN in case the major American thrust should be in the region of the MARIANAS and Western CAROLINES, and in DAVAO in case of a thrust further south. Plans had been made as to where the planes and personnel should be obtained in both cases. Admiral KOGA decided, in view of the situation prevailing on the evening of the 30th, to move to DAVAO. For this trip three planes were called from SAIPAN, the first two arriving just after the air raid on PALAU had ended, the third coming somewhat delayed. The first two planes left on the evening of the 31st but both failed to reach their destination. One was lost in a storm at sea, the other crashed in the region of CEBU. The third, which was much delayed in departure actually took off about 0300 on the morning of the 31st, and was the only one arriving at its destination.
Q. What was the cause of the crash of the second?
A. I was on this second plane with 14 staff officers. The pilot was not able to discover CEBU itself, and when at a point about six miles south of CEBU, he decided to make an emergency landing at a small town there. As the moon had just gone down, the sudden darkness caused the pilot to misjudge the altitude and so crashed from an altitude of 50 meters. This sudden darkness plus the fact that the pilot was worn out, I believe, caused the crash. The exact time of this crash was 0200, 1 April.
Q. Departure having been made from PALAU at what time?
A. About 9 o'clock of the previous evening. Ordinarily, we should have arrived at DAVAO by midnight.
Q. And what were weather conditions en route?
A. On the way the plane encountered a low pressure area which we avoided by going to the right. The weather conditions in and around CEBU were excellent.
Q. And it was because of having circled to the north the extra distance that you were delayed, and caused the pilot to land at CEBU instead of proceeding to DAVAO?
A. I pointed out that we should proceed to MANILA, and when we started, we had sufficient fuel to make that distance. But as we tried on the way to make more than ordinary speed, there was heavy consumption of fuel, so that by the time we arrived at CEBU, we thought it was better to land there.
Q. The two planes departed about the same time and heard nothing about or from the first plane?
A. It was originally planned for the first and second planes to take off simultaneously and fly in formation. Just before taking off, there was an air raid alert, which later proved to be a false alarm, but that alert made us give up the idea of taking off together, and that was the last we saw of each other. We never got together again.
Q. Will you state the results of the crash?
A. When I received the warning that an emergency landing would have to be made, I went forward in the plane and stated that I didn't think this was CEBU. I had been there before, but the pilot said this was it and that we would make an emergency landing. It was unfortunate that the Navigation Air Staff Officer aboard had become somewhat groggy from lack of oxygen because of the high altitude, and was not in a mental position to give a sound judgment. When the plane crashed, I sank and when I came up the gasoline on the surface of the sea was burning. Fortunately, I was outside of the burning area, and those who came up outside the burning area were saved. I swam for about eight and a half hours before being picked up. The others saved with me were Captain YAMAMOTO of the Staff, one warrant officer and eight petty officers and sailors. When I came to the surface, I luckily found a seat cushion which was afloat.
Q. This was a four-engined flying boat? Kawanishi?
A. Yes, Captain YAMAMOTO later joined the Surface Task Force as Operations Staff Officer, and I believe that Captain YAMAMOTO was lost with Admiral ITO in the operations shortly after the beginning of the OKINAWA Campaign. The others, all members of the plane crew, had come from SAIPAN and were returned there after the rescue. I believe that they were all lost at the time that we lost SAIPAN.
Q. Will you now relate your own movements from the point of the crash until you completed your sick leave?
A. The crash occurred around 0230 in the morning, and from where I had crashed, when it became daylight, I saw a chimney of the Asano Cement Plant, and hence felt it was in fairly safe territory. This cement plant was located about six miles south of CEBU. The actual position of the crash was 4 kilometers off-shore, we started to swim,but progress was slow because of the strong cross current. The young members of the crew, however, were much stronger and reached shore ahead of me. As I continued swimming shoreward, two or three canoes came out to me, but I hesitated to be taken on because I was not sure whether they were friends or enemies. I finally decided to take a chance and be rescued, since I had just about reached the limit of my physical strength. When I was taken ashore, I did not see any of the members of the crew, but there were five or six natives who immediately surrounded me and told me to follow them. I went with them into the mountains. The atmosphere there was such that I feared we would be killed, whether by sword or gun I could not say, but I had about given up hope. The situation was especially difficult as the English spoken was bad on both sides, and we had a hard time making out what the other was trying to say. It was late in the afternoon when we got there, and about three hours afterwards there arrived a native non-commissioned officer who spoke fairly good English, and who said: "We thought you had a pistol with you when you landed. What have you done with it?" He apparently wanted to get the pistol. I explained the circumstances of the trip and the accident. When they learned that, contrary to their belief, our plane had not come to attack the island or the natives, they made me wait several hours, and then suddenly their attitude changed. They offered to take me to a hospital, seeing that I was badly injured. I asked them what would be done with the others, Captain YAMAMOTO and the crew members. The reply was that they didn't know, but that they would probably follow me. I was placed on a simple, primitive stretcher, was carried through the mountains for seven days, and on the eighth day, which was 8 April, I was carried into a fairly good native home where there were two Filipino doctors and nurses to attend to me. I was in a very weakened condition with the wounds having festered, and running a fever of around 104°. Then there came to this home a Lieutenant-Colonel KOOSHING, who said that he had control of CEBU, and that as long as I was in his hands, I was safe. This Lieutenant-Colonel, who was a mining engineer, and who had been to JAPAN several times, where he had many Japanese friends, told me not to worry, but to stay there until I was well again, and supplied the other members with me with rice and other necessary provisions. One day, the Lieutenant-Colonel brought with him his wife and his child of about 10. The wife was a Filipino. The boy offered me some wafers which I ate, and seeing this they said: "If you can eat all that, you are getting much better." The lady made some coffee for me. All this while I was still abed and weak. At midnight of the 9th, KOOSHING came to me suddenly, saying that there had arrived some JAPANESE Army men to recover the party and they were causing trouble to the natives. He promised to release me and my party if I would send word to the Army that they should not kill or injure the natives. Captain YAMAMOTO sent a message through by KOOSHING, to which the Army apparently agreed, so that I was again placed on a stretcher and taken to CEBU. During all this time I was not subjected to questioning nor grilling. Apparently, they guessed that I was of a considerable rank, and KOOSHING used to address me as General. I did not think it necessary to correct him as to the title. Looking back on this experience, I believe that it was my miraculous luck that I was saved. The home where I was taken was in the mountains only about 10 kilometers back of CEBU. The distance which the natives said they could cover in one hour by foot, required twenty-four hours with the stretcher.
At CEBU I rested for two days, and a Staff Officer was sent from MANILA to take me back. I left CEBU on the 15th by plane for MANILA, and flew from MANILA to TOKYO on the 20th. At the time I arrived at TOKYO, I was still in such shape that I could not move about without assistance. It was not until the Staff Officer arrived from MANILA that I heard of Admiral KOGA's death. Until then, I thought that my plane was the only one that had been lost. It was believed in TOKYO that I had also been killed, and although they had received information regarding some Japanese who had crashed in the neighboring mountains, the truth was not
learned at TOKYO until 12 April. My rescue by the Army force resulted not as a result of a search made by the Army on the basis of any information regarding my party, but because they happened to come there in the course of their periodical mopping up operations around the island. After submitting the report of the situation, it was decided that Admiral KOGA's death should be kept secret for the time being, and to guarantee the secrecy,I was assigned a house near the Togo Shrine and was told to rest up there. I was there from 20 April to 15 May. Meantime, Admiral TOYODA had been named KOGA's successor and Admiral KUSAKA as my successor. Gradually,however, the facts became known, so on the 13 May, I was told to return home, and on 15 June, I was assigned as CinC Second Air Fleet.
Q. What was the stated reason for the secrecy with respect to the death of Admiral KOGA?
A. I was more or less in confinement in this secret resident so I am not certain as to the exact reason for this secrecy. But I believe that the reasons was out of consideration for the effect which the information would have on the Allied side rather than from any consideration of the domestic reaction. In other words, they wanted to give the new Commander-in-Chief sufficient time in which to be able to exercise his command effectively over his fleet before the enemy should become aware that a change had been made.
Q. Admiral, will you give me a brief personal evaluation of Admiral KOGA as a Fleet Commander; what were his particular strengths or weaknesses?
A. I was a Section Chief at the time that Admiral KOGA was Deputy CHief in the Navy General Staff. This was for a period of about one and a half years. Through that association I know that Admiral KOGA was conservative and cool, particularly when compared with YAMAMOTO who was an extremely colorful officer. However, Admiral KOGA settled things in logical manner. From the very beginning, he insisted on the one decisive action, first with ships, and later with shore-based planes. Under the circumstances, this strategy seemed to be the only logical one. As a Commander-in-Chief of a great fleet, he was not up to YAMAMOTO's standard, as a matter of fact, it was said not only in Navy circles, but by all the people as well, that there could be only one YAMAMOTO and nobody could take his place. KOGA was quite strong willed. KOGA was very frank when alone with me, and remarked on occasion that Admiral YAMAMOTO died at exactly the right time and he envied him that fact. Admiral KOGA was a native of SAGA Prefecture and the tradition of the SAGA SAMURAI was that a fighter should select the time and place of his death, and the earlier in battle the better. In BUSHIDO, the way of the warrior is to die. Consequently, there is no question but that, in his decision to hold the last line of defense, he meant he was determined to die there, irrespective of the chances of success of the plan. Admiral KOGA took over just when the offensive stage was coming to a close and before preparations were made for the defensive stage and, hence, it was a very difficult period. He was waiting very anxiously for completion of the defensive preparations which was scheduled for June. I think that the order in which they were actually appointed--that is, YAMAMOTO, KOGA, TOYODA--was the appropriate order. In the sense that YAMAMOTO was by far the outstanding person, for the job; and that when the number one Admiral died, the man next fitted for the position was KOGA; and when he died, then the third man in order of fitness was TOYODA.
Q. Admiral KOGA had set up the MARIANAS-PALAU line as the last line of defense. What was your personal view of the position when the MARIANAS were occupied?
A. I personally agreed with him, not merely because I was under his orders, that the defense of this line was absolutely indispensable. Fighting to the last man night have been possible, but I felt certain that if this line once were broken, there would be no subsequent recovery of our defensive power. The original Japanese plan must have been to fight to the very last and so it actually ended. But my personal feeling all through was that if that line should be broken there would be no further chance of success. The loss of the MARIANAS ISLANDS was, therefore, a heavy spiritual blow to me. I had neither a plan for nor confidence in recovery of those islands. Though the loss of the MARIANAS was a spiritual blow to me, this does not mean that there was any decrease in my will to fight, for I had been determined from the beginning to fight until dead. It did mean, however, that after that loss I could see no chance for our success.
Q. What would have been your action at that point were you to have been in control? Would you have initiated steps for a negotiated peace, or what?
A. This is the first time that such a question has ever been put to me. The possibility of being in such a position never occurred to me before, and hence I am hardly prepared to give an answer. Being a soldier, I was determined to fight until dead; consequently, I believe, that as a Navy officer I would have continued the war. But if, as your question implies, I were to be given control even of political questions involved, then because the question has come so suddenly, I wouldn't venture to offer an answer. I can say, however, definitely, that my will to fight was not affected.
Q. In viewing that move across the PACIFIC, MARSHALLS-GILBERTS, through the MARIANAS, what was the principal reason that the Americans could accomplish that?
A. As Chief of Staff to Admiral KOGA who was interested in the defense of the MARIANAS-CAROLINES
line, I was personally greatly worried lest the next American thrust be directed against the MARIANAS. Others thought that the next American thrust would be directed further south, more in the direction of the NEW GUINEA Area. Admiral KOGA, I think, was more or less in agreement with me; and for that reason he favored fleet operations from SAIPAN. American attack against MARIANAS would have been a heavy blow to us because of its being closer to the heart of JAPAN. One reason for my worry regarding this possibility was the fact that I did not have confidence in our ability to complete defense preparations by June, as scheduled. This doubt I based upon our past production performance. The determination to defend this line to the last, irrespective of chances of success, was well enough; but for the reason already stated, I felt that the chance of success was very poor. In addition to the probable failure to complete the defensive preparations by June, there was the fear that the Army air support might not come when needed. Moreover, I was afraid that the weakness of our defense along that line was known to you either through decoding of our messages or through reconnaissance, and I still have the feeling that you had the facts on the situation. At the time of the loss of the MARIANAS in June, general feeling was still prevailing that your main attack would be further south of PALAU nto the NEW GUINEA region. Good indication of that trend of thought is to be found in the fact that even at the time when your attack on the MARIANAS began, the majority of our air strength had been concentrated down south. When the attack on the MARIANAS began, we had to try to bring the air strength northward in a great hurry.
Q. What was the reason for the concentrated interest on the south; what was the reason for the belief that the American effort would come there?
A. There appears to have been no sound basis for that view. Even those holding that view felt that the American Forces would proceed as far north as the MARIANAS in time. But since the regions further south would be easier to obtain, you would take the easiest first and then come northward step by step, each new step providing a new base for your next step. In other words, I think it was based more or less on wishful thinking. The reason for my taking the opposite view, namely, that a direct thrust would be undertaken against the MARIANAS, was that it would be the most effective step against JAPAN from a strategic standpoint, and in view of the strength you had, not impossible.
Q. What strength specifically is referred to?
A. I have in mind forces you had when taking the MARSHALLS Area in January, and I felt that if that force could be continued in the thrust against the MARIANAS it could not be successfully resisted by us since our fleet was without adequate carrier planes, hence we had no effective defense. In spite of this, the majority opinion, both in TOKYO and in the fleet, was that your next thrust would come further south. All of this, however, transported while I was on sick leave so I am not in a position to make very authoritative statements on the situation that prevailed at that time.
Q. You refer now to American naval strength, air strength, amphibious strength in this move west. Do you speak of long range planes? What is the principal strength referred to here?
A. In that statement, I did not mean the very forces which you used against MARSHALLS. What I meant was a force of similar proportions. Considered in the light of the relatively small objective, you brought a tremendous number of ships for that operation. The figure by you was far more than we had ever imagined. Moreover, you sent some 60,000 men. If you had brought a force of similar proportions against MARIANAS, it is certain that, with defense preparations having started only in March, successful resistance would have been impossible. In other words, such a force would have been overwhelming.
Q. You refer to the Striking Force ahead and the large Amphibious Force following behind--the combination of these things. Is it the form of that attack, the power of the Striking Force and the powerful Amphibious Force?
A. Personally, I put emphasis on the quantity rather than on the method employed.
Q. In view of the situation after the MARIANAS had been taken, what is your comment as to the necessity for the subsequent operations against PALAU which started in mid-September?
A. We looked upon your operation against PALAU as a step preparatory to the PHILIPPINES Operation, for use as an intermediate supply base. We did not believe that the step was indispensable as a step preparatory to the PHILIPPINES Operation. In other words, we believed that you could have carried out the PHILIPPINES Operation without the intermediate step. We had a force in PALAU to be sure, but we had no intention of an all-out defense of the island, nor of increasing its air force, nor of augmenting the number of ships there. We were, then, concentrating everything on the SHO-GO Operation which was to come next.
Q. Again looking at the operation from the MARSHALLS to the MARIANAS, do you think it would have been possible to defend that area wholly by the deployment of land-based air on the many islands; and if so, what numbers of aircraft would have been involved?
A. In order to defend that line by use of land-based planes alone, I think that it would have been necessary for us to maintain, constantly, at least three times the combined number of the carrier-based and land-based planes. For JAPAN, such a thing was out of the question. We might have managed to reach that proportion at some
one time, but we could certainly not have maintained it for any length of time, especially in view of the fact that fighting had to be carried on under bad weather conditions and sometimes at night. In other words, we could not have defended that without strong support from fleet planes.
Q. In the original concept at the beginning of the war, were the various forces given definite final objectives or merely limited objectives, with a view to subsequent orders depending on the progress of the campaign?
Early Stages of the War
A. The original order given to Admiral YAMAMOTO by the Imperial General Headquarters contained two main parts: one, destruction of the enemy fleet; two, coordination with the Army in capturing, and gaining control of the southern areas. With regard to the first pint, as in the case of the RUSSO-JAPANESE War when Admiral TOGO was ordered to destroy the RUSSIAN Fleet without any detailed instructions as to how or where that was to be done, steps and methods to be employed for the destruction of the enemy fleet were left to Admiral YAMAMOTO's discretion. He was to draw up the plan of operation by estimating the enemy strength in the light of the strength which he had available himself. As regards the second point, the Army, of course, was to carry out the work of occupation. The purpose of that was less strategic than economic and political, the object being principally to gain control of the raw materials in the south. The duty of the Navy in that connection was to support the Army effort both with its fleet and its land-based air force. lest there be misunderstanding on the point, I wish to say that though Admiral YAMAMOTO was assigned this specific duty of planning and executing the destruction of the enemy fleet according to his own discretion, he could not activate any plan without the approval of the Imperial General Headquarters. I cannot recall that any line was fixed to designate the limits of ocean surface to be secured; I do recall, however, that lands to be occupied were definitely fixed.
Q. Initially, what was the farthest fixed position to which the advance in the north was limited?
A. In the north, the ALEUTIANS, including ATTU and KISKA, but I believe that DUTCH HARBOR was left to fleet discretion. In the south RABAUL was designated from the beginning; and the SOLOMONS and MIDWAY were added later.
Q. This would then be called the first established line--ATTU and KISKA (possibly DUTCH HARBOR), WAKE, RABAUL and so on west? We might accept that as a first line?
A. Yes, include the GILBERTS in that line. That was the first line for occupation but this did not restrict naval activity.
Q. Then the move into the Western ALEUTIANS in June 1942 was actually in completion of this initial plan, even though delayed somewhat?
A. I wish to make a correction, the question of including KISKA and ATTU in the original program was only considered, but it was not adopted at that time. It was added at the same time MIDWAY was brought into this line.
Q. In May 1942, Japanese forces were in the SOLOMONS. Was this the first move beyond the original line? If so, what was its intent?
A. I believe that this was the first instance in which we went beyond the original line, and that move was made, I believe, because the local command at RABAUL felt that the occupation of the SOLOMONS was essential to the maintenance of our hold on RABAUL which was a point on our original line.
Q. That, of course, was an Imperial General Staff decision?
A. Since that was in the nature of an addition to the regular duty already assigned to the fleet it must have been issued as an Imperial General Headquarters order; probably recommended by RABAUL, approved by Imperial General Headquarters and issued in the form of an order.
Q. What was the intention as to the extent of the advance in that direction?
A. Taking of RABAUL, in the first place, was a part of the Navy plan. At first there was one section of opinion which favored taking only as far as SHORTLAND, but later it was extended over the entire SOLOMONS. There was also another section favoring extension to NEW HEBRIDES with the object of cutting off communications between the UNITED STATES and AUSTRALIA, but the section that favored taking the whole SOLOMONS Group prevailed.
Q. Was there, at a later date, any further planned extension toward the southeast? Any attempted plan?
A. Yes, the idea was considered of taking NEW HEBRIDES and even of proceeding to AUSTRALIA, but those plans were never attempted or incorporated into an order.
Q. Who initiated the proposal to make an amphibious occupation of PORT MORESBY; was it primarily Army or Navy interest?
A. I don't remember the circumstances exactly, but believe it wsa probably the Navy; because in the operations centered about RABAUL, the Navy was taking the initiative in most cases. After RABAUL was taken and subsequent operations were extended it became more and more clear that a broad area would have to be occupied
in order to secure RABAUL. Just exactly who made the original proposal, I do not know, but it is certain that the demand originated at RABAUL, probably on the Navy side, and was approved by Central Authorities. When the decision to take PORT MORESBY was made, the Army reaction to it was that it would be quite simply to occupy PORT MORESBY by a sea-borne operation.
Q. What was the effect of the Battle of the CORAL Sea on that operation, and what new plans were evolved?
A. My memory is rather hazy on this subject, also, but I believe that the results obtained in the CORAL SEA did not come up to the anticipations of the Central Authorities, as we had to pull out after a single engagement. It had been hoped that the result of this engagement would enable us to open up the situation there more advantageously. However, I don't believe that our authorities saw any need of changing subsequent plans as a result of the engagement in the CORAL SEA.
Q. Then the subsequent movement of the Army troops over the OWEN STANLEY Range was still primarily to serve the Navy's purpose; that is, a continuation of the Navy's insistence that PORT MORESBY was next?
A. It was not so much in pursuance of Navy plan as a joint plan, because, at that time, there was complete agreement between Army and navy on the southward push. The Army thought that the mountains could be very easily crossed. Back of that thought was an erroneous impression on the part of the Japanese Army that the U.S. Army presented no serious problem; in other words, the Army estimated the U.S. Army much too lightly; that applies also to the Australian Army. Our Army learned this truth only after the reverses at GUADALCANAL and the SOLOMONS. This under-estimation of U.S. and Australian Armies led to the belief that even after we had lost GUADALCANAL, that that position could be easily recovered with perhaps as small a force as 500 crack troops. The same idea was behind the Army belief that the crossing of the OWEN STANLEY Range would be a simple operation.
Q. When was the decision reached to expand the perimeter to include MIDWAY, and what were the reasons therefor?
A. The taking of MIDWAY was a part of the fleet desire. From the outset, the fleet wanted to take MIDWAY even if subsequent developments caused its loss. I believe the idea originated with Admiral YAMAMOTO that the fleet wished to take it even if subsequent developments should necessitate giving it up again. The Imperial General STaff, however, was opposed to the idea at first because the disadvantages of holding MIDWAY, especially in the way of supply, would outweigh the advantages. It had always been a policy of the Japanese Navy to hold the fleet in waters relatively close to home to meet the enemy there in surface interception operations, the object being to engage the enemy in areas most advantageous for us. But as the operations in the first stage of the war were so successful as to even exceed expectations and as the fleet again submitted its plan for taking MIDWAY with details of the plan, especially with regard to the reasons for the necessity of taking it and the chances of success of the operation, the Imperial Staff at this time gave its support. The Army also fell in line and offered to send troops for occupation. As this was an addition to the original plan of operations it was issued as a new Imperial General Headquarters order. By way of summary, it might be stated the purpose of this operation for taking MIDWAY was to utilize it as a base for future advances, and at the same time to prevent its being used by the enemy as a base. The Chief of the Naval General Staff, Admiral NAGANO, had full confidence in Admiral YAMAMOTO's judgment, and was always willing to trust his judgment in respect to fleet operations. he appeared to have the feeling that if Admiral YAMAMOTO said that a certain plan promised success he would be willing to let Admiral YAMAMOTO proceed with its execution. While there was discussion of this plan between the fleet and authorities in the General STaff, what really led to Admiral NAGANO giving his final consent to the carrying out of this plan was the fact he always had full confidence in the CinC of the Fleet.
Q. About what date was the additional order issued?
A. I don't remember the exact date but believe it was just prior to commencement of the operation. Since the fleet had studied this operation very closely, they were in a position to put the plan into operation immediately once it was issued.
Q. You made a suggestion of further forward advances. Did the Naval General Staff act on its own initiative or did it receive from Admiral YAMAMOTO plans to go on beyond MIDWAY? If so, what was the nature of those plans?
A. It would probably be more accurate to say that one of the purposes for taking MIDWAY was to use it as a base for subsequent operations rather than for further advance. No doubt the fleet had been studying the possibility for further advances even to HAWAII, but doesn't appear to have been able to draw up a plan that would promise success, and the Imperial General Staff had been opposed from the beginning to extending the line too far. I am certain that there was no definite adoption of a plan, at that time, to go beyond MIDWAY. From some time prior to this, the Naval General Staff had been considering the question of operations toward HAWAII as a problem reserved for a subsequent time, a time when our fleet should have destroyed the American Fleet. However, the General STaff had not transmitted this idea to the fleet yet.
Q. What were the effects of the Battle of MIDWAY, 406 June 1942, and what new plans, if any, were evolved directly as a result of that action?
A. The result of the MIDWAY engagement was a most serious blow to our Navy. Admiral YAMAMOTO's basic policy had been to engage the enemy in a decisive fleet engagement. He was at the same time an advocate of using air power, including the use of land-based air forces. In undertaking the capture of MIDWAY, he, no doubt, planned to use MIDWAY as a base for just such a fleet engagement; but as a result of this serious set-back at MIDWAY, he was probably forced to give up the hope of holding such a fleet engagement a great distance from home. The effect of the MIDWAY Battle was to greatly restrict the area in which such a fleet engagement could be carried out. The damage we suffered there was so great that the result was concealed from our own public. It is only now that the truth is coming out, and I believe it is giving rise to a considerable problem because of the previous concealment.
Q. The concealment was to avoid effects on civilian morale?
A. I believe that the real figures were concealed from everybody except those in the Imperial General Staff and the two service ministers; in other words, people who absolutely had to know the truth. The concealment from the rest of the nation was of course to prevent disappointment, loss of hope, etc. That is the purpose. It was domestic rather than exterior.
Q. It would appear that a loss so significant would require important changes in over-all plans; was that the case? What was the nature of the changes?
A. I believe that, heavy as this loss was, it did not cause any direct change in the basic policy of the Imperial General STaff which had left to the fleet the decision as to the manner and method which its duties were to be performed--said duties being destruction of the enemy fleet and occupation and control of the raw materials area in the south. As already stated, the MIDWAY Operation had the effect of greatly restricting the area in which the decisive engagement with the enemy fleet could be advantageously carried out. In other words, the result of the MIDWAY engagement was to force Admiral YAMAMOTO to the decision that this decisive battle would have to be fought in waters relatively close to home.
Q. Aside from operational plans, did the engagement result in changes in the building program of ships, or the relative weight given to aircraft production or the training program, principally in regard to air?
A. As a result of the setback at MIDWAY, there was no change in opinion as regards the necessity and importance of carriers. But as regards future changes in ship building, there arose a split of opinion. One school emphasized that we must have large numbers of carriers, even though they be of very simple construction, just a steel frame with a deck to serve as take-off runway being considered sufficient. One prominent advocate of this idea was the late Admiral ONOSHI. The other school emphasized the need of strengthening the armor, that carriers must be made less vulnerable against bombing. In the end, the latter school carried the day, and this led to conversion of carriers already in hand and to changes of design in future construction, the changes being aimed to strengthen the decks, to equip the holds with anti-fire facilities, etc. One other effect of the MIDWAY Operation was a change in surface strategy. Ever since the HAWAIIAN Operations at the beginning of the war, officers attached to task forces centered about carriers had the idea that such task forces could go anywhere with impunity. This school, therefore, received a serious setback and realized that such task forces were relatively vulnerable against land-based air forces (sic), and that engagement with such land-based air forces could not be successfully carried out unless with greater fleet strength.
Q. At this point, subsequent to the MIDWAY Operation, how would you define or indicate the spheres of influence or primary interest of the Army or of the Navy?
A. Very broadly speaking, the Navy's principal interest was in the east and there the whole naval strength and interest was concentrated. In that area, the Navy took the initiative even in land operations. That is not to say that the Army followed the Navy in those operations reluctantly; they came willingly enough. The Army was interested chiefly in the regions to the south and southwest. In those regions, the Army was interested principally in questions of military administration, which is connected up directly with the question of getting raw materials, etc. In fact, they appeared at times even to have forgotten the necessity of continuing the military operations. The reason for the Navy's interest and operations in the eastern area was to occupy that area and to use it as a base for operations against the enemy who, it was felt, would come to the southern area in time.
Q. Shortly before the GUADALCANAL landing, specifically about mid-July 1942, how would you divide Army and Navy interest in the RABAUL, SOLOMONS and NEW GUINEA Areas, if there can be a line of demarcation?
A. The plan of occupying that region came originally from the Navy. To this plan the Army agreed readily enough, and both sent reinforcements to strengthen their positions there. At first, there was no great difference in the degree of interest which the two services had, but there was a difference later in that the Navy thought that the region might become the position where the decisive engagements would take place. The Army, on the contrary, thought that this was but one small phase, at least until the loss of GUADALCANAL. After that time, however, the Army realized its mistake, but it was never as consistent as the Navy in sending reinforcements
to strengthen the positions. The Army General Staff appears to have been of the opinion, for much the same reasons as the Navy, that this region was a very important one, but the Army Department objected to the view from the standpoint of difficulty in sending armaments and supplies, and for this reason there wasn't a constant flow to that region from the Army. I believe that an agreement was made in TOKYO, probably after the loss of GUADALCANAL, that in NEW GUINEA the Army should be the mainstay and in the SOLOMONS the Navy.
Q. Why did the Naval General Staff feel that the general areas of NEW GUINEA and the SOLOMONS would be the location of decisive operations?
A. The GUADALCANAL Operation marked the first Allied counter-thrust against territories which we had occupied, and the Navy felt that that counter-thrust must not be allowed to succeed, because should the Americans succeed they would gain confidence and continue pushing against other areas which we had occupied. In order to prevent such a development, the Navy was willing to stake everything on a decisive fight in that area. It was in that sense the idea generally had the support of the Army General Staff; the difficulty, as already stated, arose from the Army Department.
Q. When the landings were first made on GUADALCANAL, 7 August, what specifically was the re-estimate of the situation in TOKYO as to immediate American plans?
A. Since the landing at GUADALCANAL gave you the first base for the Allied counter-thrust against JAPAN, we thought that, with that as the first base, you would begin operations to retake all of the region centered about RABAUL, and this is exactly the directon the subsequent operations did proceed. When the landing began at GUADALCANL, the Navy section of the Imperial General Headquarters insisted strongly that all of the three battalions of naval forces then stationed at RABAUL should be sent at once to support the troops at GUADALCANAL. The Army, however, said no, that since they happened to have crack units at that time who were on their way from JAVA to JAPAN, these could be sent there instead, and this was done. I stll believe that we should have attempted the other plan of sending the three battalions from RABAUL. The resion for my still thinking that we made a mistkae in not sending the naval force from RABAUL which were not very strong units, while those which were on their way home from JAVA were crack troops, is that it had been my experience in CHINA that when troops were on their way home after completion of fighting, their morale was inclined to be reduced, and I felt the same way about the so called crack troops on their way home from JAVA. They might have been good while the fighting was going on, but when the fight was over, there is bound to be a let down in spirit. The Army had planned to send these troops back to JAPAN because of the Army view that the beginning of the occupation marked the completion of the fighting; after that time, it was simply a question of maintaining order and military administration.
Q. About three weeks after the initial landing on GUADALCANAL, on 26 August, Japanese forces landed at MILNE Bay; was that a diversionary effort associated with the defense of GUADALCANAL, or did it have any other relationship?
A. Perhaps not entirely disconnected with the GUADALCANAL Operation, but I don't think there was any diversionary purpose involved. The direct reason for the MILNE Bay landing was to gain a base necessary in the NEW GUINEA Operations. It was felt that the Allied forces would come along the hump and we needed a base to prevent operations along that hump.
Q. On 17 August 1942, American naval forces made a raid on MAKIN Island from a submarine. Did the staff attach any significance to that operation?
A. We didn't attach much importance to it because it wasn't very significant, merely an attempt from submarines to destroy land equipment.
Q. In the SOLOMONS Campaign, subsequent to the landing on 7 August, there was a long series of surface engagements and air operations extending over a period of the next four or five months. I would like your comment as to the point in which air operations were so favorable or unfavorable that they required a change in basic plans here in TOKYO.
A. The change in plan in that region was made after the failure of our second attempt to recover GUADALCANAL sometime in October, I don't remember the exact date. Until that time, the Army was very confident. As you will recall, when the first attempt was made with the troops on their way back from JAVA, it proved to be an utter failure. The Army attributed that failure to lack of numbers; so when the second attempt was made, it was decided to increase the number of troops. Both the Army and Navy hoped this time to succeed in recovering GUADALCANAL, but that again proved a complete failure. It was then decided to abandon GUADALCANAL, and we had great difficulty in withdrawing our remaining forces there.
Q. What was the principal reason as reported to TOKYO, for the difficulty in withdrawing troops?
A. The principal difficulty came from the fact that your established air bases on the island had interfered with our shipping, transports, etc., and prevented our sending food and supplies to the troops until such a time a they could be placed on transports. Added to that, there was occasional activity on the part of your surface units interfering
with our shipping. The problem of sending provisions there was so difficult at times that we used submarines for the purpose. I look back upon the SOLOMONS fight with great regret today; I regret that the Navy allowed itself to be drawn along by the Army in the belief that GUADALCANAL could be easily recaptured by Army troops; and that after the failure of the first effort, we allowed ourselves to be dragged deeper and deeper into the mire and to lose forces which we needed badly in other operations later on. One serious blow to the Navy was loss of many destroyers there.
Q. Looking back at the whole RABAUL-SOLOMONS Campaign, until after RABAUL had been by-passed, what is the significance of that operation in connection with the whole Japanese war operations; how vital was it to your war effort?
A. If we had put into the SOLOMONS Campaign, from the very beginning, the large forces which we actually lost by the end of the campaign, I believe it would have been far more successful. Even had we not been able to retain that area, we could, in losing it, have inflicted very great damage against the enemy. The sending of our troops little by little was extremely poor tactics. We had an agreement between the Army and Navy on broad general principals, but had difficulty in getting together on details. Compared with the small results obtained in this campaign, our losses were extremely heavy, and the effect of this loss was felt in the subsequent stage of the war; namely, the second phase when Admiral KOGA came into the picture, the period when our preparations, equipment, etc. were probably at the lowest level, that low level having been reached as a result of the failure n the SOLOMONS.
Q. Was there any particular significance in the NEW GUINEA Operations which were proceeding concurrently?
A. It had been decided that the Army should take the lead in the NEW GUINEA Operations, but after a certain period the Army decided to discontinue sending reinforcements and let those who were already there fight it out. Consequently, the remaining troops had a very bad time of it. The total loss as compared with the complete strength of the Army was, of course, not significant, and the Navy while engaged principally in the SOLOMONS Operations did extend some support to the Army operations in NEW GUINEA. THe morale effect of the NEW GUINEA Operations was to disillusion the Army regarding the weakness of the American and Australian troops. However, I do not believe that the effect of this operation in the entire war picture was very significant.
Q. What was the approximate date when responsibility was defined as to the Army in NEW GUINEA and the Navy in the SOLOMONS?
A. I don't remember the exact time, but believe it was just after the loss of GUADALCANAL.
Q. When was the Army decision made to cease support of the NEW GUINEA Operations?
A. I don't remember the date even approximately; it may have been around May or June 1943. The reason for that decision was that the situation in the eastern part of NEW GUINEA was becoming more and more disadvantageous to us. The operations around MORESBY were increasing in difficulty with the result that our forces were continually withdrawing, and this withdrawal coming like an avalanche could not be effectively stopped by sending new forces. Therefore, the Imperial General Headquarters decided that the operations in Eastern NEW GUINEA should be continued by the troops who were already there, and that our effort on the island would thereafter be concentrated on the western half of the island where new forces would be sent.
Q. Looking back on the war a whole, were the operations in the ALEUTIANS, from beginning to end, of any significance in their effect on the net result?
A. I believe that it can be said definitely that the northern operations were not of much significance n the light of the entire war.
Q. Correspondingly with respect to the Army operations in CHINA; by this I mean subsequent to the initiation of the war and occupation of preliminary positions?
A. The continuation of the Army operations in CHINA meant that a very large force was drawn into that territory, and, hence, this was distinctly disadvantageous from the standpoint of the war in the PACIFIC. The effect was that the Army was set deeper and deeper into the mire; hence, the CHINA War should not have been started in the first place. Looking at if from another angle, it might be said that the fact that we got dragged deeper and deeper into the mire might be cited as one cause for the PACIFIC War.
Q. What, if any, significance could be attached to the military operations in the southern resources area after the initial occupation, significance to the ultimate result of the war?
A. I would point to the BURMA Operations, which also proved to be a failure, as having considerable effect upon the entire war. THe Army undertook the BURMA Operation with the idea of protecting CHINA, French INDO-CHINA and SIAM from the flank. It was a continuance of the operations in CHINA, and ending as it did in failure, I believe that its effect on the entire war effort was considerable.
Q. What effect did the Army operations in MANCHURIA, or the Army occupation in MANCHURIA have, if any?
A. Because of the need of guarding against Soviet RUSSIA, we had always kept stationed our best troops, both land and air, in MANCHURIA. As need arose for new forces in the various southern areas, these crack troops were taken out of MANCHURIA and sent to those southern regions, being replaced in MANCHURIA by new men with the idea of maintaining a constant number in the north against RUSSIA. If those crack troops could have been employed in the southern areas from the start, we could certainly have fought this war far more advantageously even though we might not have been winners in the end. Therefore, the occupation of MANCHURIA by the Army throughout the period of this war had an effect of considerable importance upon the war.
Q. What would you say was the decisive theater of the war and why?
A. The general area in the PACIFIC where the naval engagements between the Japanese Navy and American Navy were fought, and of that area and operation I would point to SAIPAN in particular.
Q. What were the decisive forces in the war?
A. If I were to give the decisive factors and the order of their importance, I would place first, the Air Force; second, Surface Force; third, land forces. That is not to say you could drop out any one of them. They must all be there in that order.
Q. With respect to air, what particular employment throughout the period of the war was decisive?
A. I would place long-range bombing and with it attacking planes as the most important aspect of the air force. I draw the analogy of fleet gunnery--the ship whose guns have the longest range always enjoys a definite advantage, but in case of the air force, the side that has the longest range bombers is in a position to strike at the heart of the enemy country without itself being bombed. By advancing little by little they can always reach a point where bombing of the home country will be possible. Throughout the war neither JAPAN nor GERMANY was able to bomb your country once. On the contrary, you did that at will against both countries because of the longer range of your attacking planes.
Q. To clarify the long-range bomber and the attack planes, you don't mean that they bombed JAPAN from the United States? Please clarify the attacking planes.
A. By attack planes I mean attack planes of any kind, because even short-range attack planes, by moving up the bases toward the enemy, can reach the enemy country and can be used effectively. In a little more detail, I think that dive-bombing is not so important now and for the future, since you have developed facilities for finding a target. It would be advantageous to use bigger and more bombs; in other words, planes of large capacity. I think that horizontal-bombing serves the purpose and that dive-bombing is not essential.
Q. At the time of the occupation of the MARIANAS, had JAPAN been seriously affected by long-range bombing; and if so, when?
A. The only raids of any importance prior to the occupation of MARIANAS were the raids against YAWATA, OMURA and NAGASAKI from continental CHINA.
Q. Earlier you spoke of the principal theater of the war as being in the PACIFIC, and we progressed by stages to the breaking of the final defense line, MARIANAS and PALAU. how do you associate that with long-range bombing?
A. In the earlier stages of the war, B-17's proved most effective, since by their constant scouting and search they disrupted our communication during the NEW GUINEA and SOLOMONS Operations, even more so than did your submarines. That period was followed by one n which the B-24's played a similar part, perhaps to even greater degree. Then came the attackers. Finally, the kind which proved most effective and most to be feared were the B-29's because of their long range and large bomb carrying capacity. This is sort of a chronological order throughout the period. I feel that the most effective part of the air force was that provided by your Task Force carriers, because their attack could be moved about at will with the movement of the Task Force.
Q. Was that throughout the entire period of the war?
A. Yes, covering the entire period fo the war, I think the Task Forces were most effective. The reason for placing Task Forces in top position is that their attacks came oftener, planes came in greater numbers and obtained some results in addition to that of destruction by bombing.
Q. What do you mean in addition to that of destruction by bombing?
A. By other results, I mean that in addition to bombing, which is of course most effective, a Task Force carries fighters which strafe with machine guns and engage in dog-fights to down our planes; also, it has artillery fire from ship's guns.
Q. You have several times mentioned phases of the war. How do you divide the war into phases?
A. This division into phases was an arbitrary one adopted merely for sake of convenience. However, such a division had always been contemplated and was always in the minds of the Navy General Staff from earlier years. The first phase operation was the occupation of the raw materials area to the south. The second phase was after
the change from offensive in taking this area to the defensive of the occupied area. In addition, the fleet attempted a third phase which covered the period between the two already mentioned; namely, the period of stabilization of the occupied area immediately after occupation and prior to the beginning of the defensive operations. So the actual order became: first phase--occupation, second phase--stabilization, third phase--defensive. Admiral YAMAMOTO commanded the fleet through the first phase and the early part of the second phase, Admiral KOGA was in command through the latter part of the second phase and the early part of the third phase, and Admiral TOYODA followed through the last part of the third phase.
Q. What in your opinion was the turning point of the war, that is, when operations began going against you?
A. I think the first big turning point was MIDWAY, and the second the loss of GUADALCANAL. After that we were on the defensive.
Q. At what point would you say that the chance of ultimate success was definitely doubtful; in other words, what was the critical point when the possibility of success was limited.
A. I felt definitely that there was no chance of ultimate success when we lost the MARIANAS in June 1944. I, along with most naval officers, felt all along that final success was extremely difficult. That is why we were all determined to fight to the last; irrespective of the chances for success. As stated so many times, such was the spirit in which we carried out the operations in the SOLOMONS, NEW GUINEA and any areas to the south; but with the loss of the MARIANAS last June, I felt that the last chance had slipped from us definitely. The fact that I realized that, however, does not mean that it had any effect upon our determination or will to fight.
Q. I would like a brief comment on the results and effectiveness of the American submarine campaign.
A. One very serious mistake we had made with regard to the allied submarine was that we had long considered that our submarines, including personnel, training, etc., were the best in the world. That opinion was held not only by submarine officers but by other officers as well. Owing to the relatively small number of submarines, it was, of course, not expected that they should take the principal role in naval operations. They would still be auxiliary, but we thought they would prove a far more effective weapon than they were. The actual developments were a very big disappointment. On the other hand, we had looked very lightly upon the Allied submarines. The reason for that view was that, apart from JAPAN, GERMANY was the only power which relied heavily on submarines, and even GERMANY used them principally against shipping. So we thought that the UNITED STATES and GREAT BRITAIN would use their submarines against our shipping in cutting off communication lines and, hence, they were not likely to prove very serious, although we did not lose sight of the fact that, because of the relatively large number that you had, they could do considerable damage against shipping. In other words, we had over-estimated our submarines, and under-estimated the Allied submarines. The principal reason for the failure of our submarines to come up to expectations was probably the inferiority in armament, equipment, experience, and electronic equipment. It must be stated as a fact that the results obtained by your submarines against our naval craft and against our shipping far exceeded anything we had expected, and it served to weaken our fighting strength and to speed up the termination of hostilities, though to what extent, I am not prepared to say.
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