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Imperial Japanese Navy

Imperial Japanese Navy

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The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) (
The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) (

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) (
{{unicode
Kyujitai
Kyūjitai, literally "old character forms" , are the traditional forms of kanji, Chinese written characters used in Japanese. Their simplified counterparts are shinjitai, "new character forms". Some of the simplified characters arose centuries ago and were in everyday use in both China and Japan,...

: {{lang|ja|大日本帝國海軍}} Shinjitai
Shinjitai
Shinjitai are the forms of kanji used in Japan since the promulgation of the Tōyō Kanji List in 1946. Some of the new forms found in shinjitai are also found in simplified Chinese, but shinjitai is generally not as extensive in the scope of its modification...

: {{lang|ja|大日本帝国海軍}} {{Audio|ja-Dai-Nippon_teikoku_kaigun.ogg|Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun}} or {{lang|ja|日本海軍}} Nippon Kaigun, literally Navy of the Greater Japanese Empire) was the navy
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 of the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
The , or JMSDF, is the naval branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, tasked with the naval defense of Japan. It was formed following the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy after World War II....

 (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.

The Japanese Navy was the third largest navy in the world by 1920, behind the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. It was supported by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was the air arm of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, the organization was responsible for the operation of naval aircraft and the conduct of aerial warfare in the Pacific War.It was controlled by the Navy Staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy and...

 for aircraft and airstrike operation from the fleet. It was the primary opponent of the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 in the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

.

The origins of the Imperial Japanese Navy go back to early interactions with nations on the Asian continent
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, beginning in the early medieval period and reaching a peak of activity during the 16th and 17th centuries at a time of cultural exchange
Cultural diffusion
In cultural anthropology and cultural geography, cultural diffusion, as first conceptualized by Alfred L. Kroeber in his influential 1940 paper Stimulus Diffusion, or trans-cultural diffusion in later reformulations, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies,...

 with Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an powers during the Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

. After two centuries of stagnation during the country's ensuing seclusion policy
Sakoku
was the foreign relations policy of Japan under which no foreigner could enter nor could any Japanese leave the country on penalty of death. The policy was enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate under Tokugawa Iemitsu through a number of edicts and policies from 1633–39 and remained in effect until...

 under the shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

s of the Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

, Japan's navy was comparatively backward when the country was forced open to trade by American intervention
Convention of Kanagawa
On March 31, 1854, the or was concluded between Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U.S. Navy and the Tokugawa shogunate.-Treaty of Peace and Amity :...

 in 1854. This eventually led to the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

. Accompanying the re-ascendance of the Emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

 came a period of frantic modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

 and industrialization. The navy's history of successes, sometimes against much more powerful foes as in the Sino-Japanese war
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 and the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

, ended in almost complete annihilation during the concluding days of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, largely by the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 (USN).

Origins


{{main|Naval history of Japan}}

Japan has a long history of naval interaction with the Asian continent, involving transportation of troops between Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 and Japan, starting at least with the beginning of the Kofun period in the 3rd century.

Following the attempts at Mongol invasions of Japan
Mongol invasions of Japan
The ' of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo to vassaldom. Despite their ultimate failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance, because they set a limit on Mongol expansion, and rank...

 by Kubilai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 in 1274 and 1281, Japanese wakō
Wokou
Wokou , which literally translates as "Japanese pirates" in English, were pirates of varying origins who raided the coastlines of China and Korea from the 13th century onwards...

 became very active in plundering the coast of the Chinese Empire.

Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 undertook major naval building efforts in the 16th century, during the Warring States period
Sengoku period
The or Warring States period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. The name "Sengoku" was adopted by Japanese historians in reference...

, when feudal rulers vying for supremacy built vast coastal navies of several hundred ships. Around that time, Japan may have developed one of the first ironclad
Ironclad warship
An ironclad was a steam-propelled warship in the early part of the second half of the 19th century, protected by iron or steel armor plates. The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells. The first ironclad battleship, La Gloire,...

 warships, when Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga
was the initiator of the unification of Japan under the shogunate in the late 16th century, which ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He was also a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. His opus was continued, completed and finalized by his successors Toyotomi...

, a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese daimyo
Daimyo
is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lords in pre-modern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings...

, had six iron-covered Oatakebune
Atakebune
were large Japanese warships of the 16th and 17th century internecine Japanese wars for political control and unity of all Japan.Japan undertook major naval building efforts in the mid to late 16th century, during the Sengoku period, when feudal rulers vying for supremacy built vast coastal navies...

 made in 1576. In 1588, Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period. He unified the political factions of Japan. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle...

 issued a ban on Wakō piracy; the pirates then became vassals of Hideyoshi, and comprised the naval force used in the Japanese invasion of Korea.

Japan built her first large ocean-going warships in the beginning of the 17th century, following contacts with the Western nations during the Nanban trade period. In 1613, the Daimyo of Sendai
Sendai, Miyagi
is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, and the largest city in the Tōhoku Region. In 2005, the city had a population of one million, and was one of Japan's 19 designated cities...

, in agreement with the Tokugawa
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 Bakufu
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

, built Date Maru
Japanese warship San Juan Bautista
San Juan Bautista was one of Japan's first Japanese-built Western-style sail warships. She crossed the Pacific in 1614. She was of the Spanish galleon type, known in Japan as Nanban-Sen San Juan Bautista (“St. John the Baptist”) (originally called Date Maru, 伊達丸 in Japanese) was one of Japan's...

, a 500 ton galleon
Galleon
A galleon was a large, multi-decked sailing ship used primarily by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries. Whether used for war or commerce, they were generally armed with the demi-culverin type of cannon.-Etymology:...

-type ship that transported the Japanese embassy of Hasekura Tsunenaga
Hasekura Tsunenaga
Hasekura Rokuemon Tsunenaga or was a Japanese samurai and retainer of Date Masamune, the daimyo of Sendai....

 to the Americas, which then continued to Europe. From 1604, about 350 Red seal ships, usually armed and incorporating some Western technologies, were also commissioned by the Bakufu, mainly for Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

n trade.

Seclusion and Western studies


Beginning in 1640, for more than 200 years Japan chose "sakoku
Sakoku
was the foreign relations policy of Japan under which no foreigner could enter nor could any Japanese leave the country on penalty of death. The policy was enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate under Tokugawa Iemitsu through a number of edicts and policies from 1633–39 and remained in effect until...

" (seclusion), which forbade contacts with the West, eradicated Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and prohibited the construction of ocean-going ships on pain of death. Contacts were maintained through the Dutch enclave of Dejima
Dejima
was a small fan-shaped artificial island built in the bay of Nagasaki in 1634. This island, which was formed by digging a canal through a small peninsula, remained as the single place of direct trade and exchange between Japan and the outside world during the Edo period. Dejima was built to...

 however, allowing for the transfer of a vast amount of knowledge related to the Western technological and scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

. This study of Western sciences, called "rangaku
Rangaku
Rangaku is a body of knowledge developed by Japan through its contacts with the Dutch enclave of Dejima, which allowed Japan to keep abreast of Western technology and medicine in the period when the country was closed to foreigners, 1641–1853, because of the Tokugawa shogunate’s policy of national...

", also allowed Japan to remain updated in areas relevant to naval sciences, such as cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

, optics
Optics
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

 or mechanical sciences. The full study of Western shipbuilding
Shipbuilding
Shipbuilding is the construction of ships and floating vessels. It normally takes place in a specialized facility known as a shipyard. Shipbuilders, also called shipwrights, follow a specialized occupation that traces its roots to before recorded history.Shipbuilding and ship repairs, both...

 techniques resumed in the 1840s during the Late Tokugawa shogunate
Late Tokugawa shogunate
, literally "end of the curtain", are the final years of the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogunate came to an end. It is characterized by major events occurring between 1853 and 1867 during which Japan ended its isolationist foreign policy known as sakoku and transitioned from a feudal shogunate...

 (Bakumatsu).

Early modernization of the Shogunal Navy


In 1853 and 1854, U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 Commodore
Commodore (rank)
Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

 Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry (naval officer)
Matthew Calbraith Perry was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy and served commanding a number of US naval ships. He served several wars, most notably in the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. He played a leading role in the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854...

 made a demonstration of force with the newest steam warships. Perry finally obtained the opening of the country to international trade through the 1854 Convention of Kanagawa
Convention of Kanagawa
On March 31, 1854, the or was concluded between Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U.S. Navy and the Tokugawa shogunate.-Treaty of Peace and Amity :...

. This was soon followed by the 1858 "unequal
Unequal Treaties
“Unequal treaty” is a term used in specific reference to a number of treaties imposed by Western powers, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, on Qing Dynasty China and late Tokugawa Japan...

" U.S.-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which allowed the establishment of foreign concessions, extraterritoriality for foreigners, and minimal import taxes for foreign goods.

As soon as Japan agreed to open up to foreign influence, the Tokugawa shogun government initiated an active policy of assimilation of Western naval technologies. In 1855, with Dutch assistance, the Shogunate acquired its first steam warship, Kankō Maru, which was used for training, and established the Nagasaki Naval Training Center
Nagasaki Naval Training Center
The was a naval training institute, between 1855 when it was established by the government of the Tokugawa shogunate, until 1859, when it was transferred to Tsukiji in Edo....

. In 1857, it acquired its first screw-driven steam warship, the {{Ship|Japanese warship|Kanrin Maru||2}}, which was soon used for the Japanese Embassy to the United States (1860)
Japanese Embassy to the United States (1860)
The was dispatched in 1860 by the Tokugawa shogunate . Its objective was to ratify the new Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between the United States and Japan, in addition to being Japan’s first diplomatic mission to the United States since the 1854 opening of Japan by Commodore...

. In 1859, the Naval Training Center was transferred to Tsukiji
Tsukiji
Tsukiji is a district of Chūō, Tokyo, Japan, the site of the Tsukiji fish market. Literally meaning "reclaimed land," it lies near the Sumida River on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay in the 18th century, during the Edo period....

 in Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

. Naval students were sent to study in Western naval schools for several years, such as the future Admiral Takeaki Enomoto
Enomoto Takeaki
Viscount was a samurai and admiral of the Tokugawa navy of Bakumatsu period Japan, who remained faithful to the Tokugawa shogunate who fought against the new Meiji government until the end of the Boshin War...

 (who studied in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 from 1862–1867), starting a tradition of foreign-educated future leaders such as Admirals Heihachirō Tōgō
Togo Heihachiro
Fleet Admiral Marquis was a Fleet Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of Japan's greatest naval heroes. He was termed by Western journalists as "the Nelson of the East".-Early life:...

 and, later, Yamamoto Isoroku
Isoroku Yamamoto
was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student of Harvard University ....

.


Japan's first domestically built modern warship


On 2 July 1863 Japan launched her first domestically built engine powered warship, the Chiyoda. Constructed by Ishikawajima
Ishikawajima
Ishikawajima could refer to:*IHI Corporation, formerly known as Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries*Ishikawajima Aircraft Company Limited*Ishikawajima Ne-20, Japan's first turbojet engine...

 of Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 and completed in May 1866, she was a wooden gunboat displacing 138 tons, measuring 103' in length with a 16' beam (width), and although she was equipped (rigged) as a brig
Brig
A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and manoeuvrable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries...

 the Chiyoda was powered by a single-shaft horizontal 2-cylinder trunk engine with 2 locomotive boilers. Armed with one 5.5" main gun and two smaller weapons she had a complement of 35 officers and men.

Originally built for the Shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

, Chiyoda was seized by the Japanese government in May 1868, captured by rebels later that year, then recaptured again by the Imperial Navy. Stricken from the navy roster in June 1869 Chiyoda was sold to a whaling company in 1888, serving until 1911, then scrapped shortly afterwards.
In 1865, the French naval engineer Léonce Verny
Léonce Verny
François Léonce Verny, was a French officer and naval engineer who directed the construction of the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal in Japan, as well as many related modern infrastructure projects from 1865 to 1876, thus helping jump-start Japan's modernization.-Early life:Léonce Verny was born in Aubenas,...

 was hired to build Japan's first modern naval arsenals, at Yokosuka
Yokosuka, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan. As of 2010, the city had an estimated population of 419,067 and a population density of 4,160 people per km². It covered an area of 100.62 km²...

 and Nagasaki. In 1867–1868, a British Naval mission headed by Captain Tracey
Tracey Mission
The Tracey Mission was a Naval mission of the Royal Navy sent to Japan in 1867-1868. The mission had been requested by the Shogunate in order to help develop its Navy, and more specifically to organize and superintend the Naval school at Tsukiji, Tokyo....

 was sent to Japan to assist the development of the Navy and organize the naval school of Tsukiji.

By the end of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867, the Tokugawa navy was already the largest of Eastern Asia, organized around eight Western-style steam warships and the flagship {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Kaiyō Maru||2}}, which were used against pro-imperial forces during the Boshin War
Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....

, under the command of Admiral Enomoto. The conflict culminated with the Naval Battle of Hakodate
Naval Battle of Hakodate
The was fought from 4–10 May 1869, between the remnants of the Tokugawa shogunate navy, consolidated into the armed forces of the rebel Ezo Republic, and the newly formed Imperial Japanese Navy...

 in 1869, Japan's first large-scale modern naval battle, and ended with the defeat of the last Tokugawa forces and the restoration of Imperial rule. The revolutionary French-built ironclad Kotetsu, originally ordered by the Tokugawa shogunate, was received by the Imperial side and was used decisively towards the end of the conflict.


Creation of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1869)


From 1868, the restored Meiji Emperor
Emperor Meiji
The or was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death...

 continued with reforms to industrialize and militarize Japan to prevent the United States and European powers from overwhelming her. On 17 January 1868, the Ministry of Military Affairs (兵部省, also known as the Army-Navy Ministry) was established, with Iwakura Tomomi
Iwakura Tomomi
was a Japanese statesman in the Meiji period. The former 500 Yen banknote issued by the Bank of Japan carried his portrait.-Early life:Iwakura was born in Kyoto as the second son of a low-ranking courtier and nobleman . In 1836 he was adopted by another nobleman, , from whom he received his family...

, Shimazu Tadayoshi
Shimazu Tadayoshi
was a daimyo of Satsuma Province during Japan's Sengoku period.He was born to a branch family of the Shimazu clan, the Mimasaka Shimazu family but after his father Shimazu Yoshihisa died, his mother married Shimazu Unkyu of another branch family, the Soshū...

 and Prince Komatsu-no-miya Akihito
Prince Komatsu Akihito
-External links:**...

 as the First Secretaries.

On 26 March 1868, the first Naval Review in Japan was held in Osaka Bay
Osaka Bay
Osaka Bay is a bay in western Japan. As an eastern part of the Inland Sea, it is separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Kii Channel and from the neighbor western part of the Inland Sea by the Akashi Strait...

, with six ships from the private domainal navies of Saga
Saga Domain
Saga Domain was a han, or feudal domain, in Tokugawa period Japan. Largely contiguous with Hizen Province on Kyūshū, the domain was governed from Saga Castle in the capital city of Saga by the Nabeshima clan of tozama daimyō...

, Chōshū, Satsuma
Satsuma han
The Satsuma domain was one of the most powerful feudal domains in Tokugawa Japan, and played a major role in the Meiji Restoration and in the government of the Meiji period which followed...

, Kurume
Kurume Domain
The ' was a Japanese domain of the Edo period, ruled by the Arima clan. It was located in Chikugo Province .The Arima clan became viscounts in the Meiji era.-List of lords:* Arima clan 1620-1871...

, Kumamoto
Kumamoto Domain
The was han or a Japanese feudal domain that was located in Higo Province apart from Kuma District and Amakusa District and part of Bungo Province . It was also known as...

 and Hiroshima
Hiroshima Domain
Hiroshima Domain was a han, or feudal domain, of Edo period Japan. Based at Hiroshima castle in the city of Hiroshima, the domain encompassed Aki province and parts of neighboring Bingo province....

 participating. The total tonnage of these ships was 2,252 tons, which was far smaller than the tonnage of the single foreign vessel (from the French Navy) that also participated. The following year, in July 1869, the Imperial Japanese Navy was formally established, two months after the last combat of the Boshin War
Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....

.

In July 1869, the private domanial navies were abolished, and their 11 ships were added to the seven surviving vessels of the defunct Tokugawa bakufu navy to form the core of the new Imperial Japanese Navy. In 1870, the new government drafted an ambitious plan to create a Navy with 200 ships organized into ten fleets. It was abandoned within a year due to lack of resources. In February 1872, the Ministry of Military Affairs was replaced by a separate Army Ministry ({{lang|ja|陸軍省}}) and Navy Ministry ({{lang|ja|海軍省}}). In October 1873, Katsu Kaishu
Katsu Kaishu
was a Japanese statesman, naval engineer during the Late Tokugawa shogunate and early Meiji period. Kaishū was a nickname which he took from a piece of calligraphy by Sakuma Shōzan. He went through a series of given names throughout his life; his childhood name was and his real name was...

 became Navy Minister.

British support


During the 1870s and 1880s, the Imperial Japanese Navy remained an essentially coastal defense force, although the Meiji government continued to modernize it. Jho Sho Maru (soon renamed Ryūjō Maru) commissioned by Thomas Glover
Thomas Blake Glover
Thomas Blake Glover, Order of the Rising Sun was a Scottish merchant in Bakumatsu and Meiji period Japan.-Early life :...

 was launched at Aberdeen
Aberdeen
Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom's 25th most populous city, with an official population estimate of ....

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 on 27 March 1869. In 1870, an Imperial decree determined that Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 should be the model for development, instead of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

.

From September 1870, the English Lieutenant Horse, a former gunnery instructor for the Saga fief
Saga Prefecture
is located in the northwest part of the island of Kyūshū, Japan. It touches both the Sea of Japan and the Ariake Sea. The western part of the prefecture is a region famous for producing ceramics and porcelain, particularly the towns of Karatsu, Imari, and Arita...

 during the Bakumatsu period, was put in charge of gunnery practice onboard the Ryūjō. In 1871, the Ministry resolved to send 16 trainees abroad for training in naval sciences (14 to Great Britain, two to the United States), among which was Heihachirō Tōgō. A 34-member British naval mission visited Japan in 1873 for two years, headed by Commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 Archibald Douglas
Archibald Lucius Douglas
Admiral Sir Archibald Lucius Douglas, GCB, GCVO was a Royal Navy officer of the 19th century.-Naval career:Douglas was born in Quebec City in pre-Confederation Canada in 1842...

. Later, Commander L.P. Willan was hired in 1879 to train naval cadets.

First interventions abroad (Taiwan 1874, Korea 1875–76)


During 1873, a plan to invade the Korean peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

 (the Seikanron
Seikanron
The Seikanron debate was a major political conflagration which occurred in Japan in 1873....

proposal made by Saigo Takamori
Saigo Takamori
was one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history, living during the late Edo Period and early Meiji Era. He has been dubbed the last true samurai.-Early life:...

) was narrowly abandoned by decision of the central government in Tokyo. In 1874, the Taiwan expedition
Taiwan Expedition of 1874
The , usually referred to in Taiwan and mainland China as the Mudan incident , was a punitive expedition launched by the Japanese in retaliation for the murder of 54 Ryukyuan sailors by Paiwan aborigines near the southwestern tip of Taiwan in December 1871...

 was the first foray abroad of the new Imperial Japanese Navy and the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 after the Mudan Incident of 1871
Mudan Incident of 1871
Mudan Incident of 1871 was the massacre of fifty-four Ryukyuan sailors in Taiwan who wandered into the central part of Taiwan after their ship was shipwrecked. 12 men were rescued by Han Chinese and were transferred to Miyako...

 .

Various interventions in the Korean peninsula continued in 1875–1876, starting with the Ganghwa Island incident
Ganghwa Island incident
The Ganghwa Island incident or the Japanese Battle of Ganghwa , was an armed encounter between the Joseon Dynasty and Japan which occurred in the vicinity of Ganghwa Island on September 20, 1875.-Background:...

 ({{lang|ko|江華島事件}}) provoked by the Japanese gunboat {{Ship|Japanese gunboat|Unyo||2}}, leading to the dispatch of a large force of the Imperial Japanese Navy. As a result, the Treaty of Ganghwa
Treaty of Ganghwa
The Japan-Korea Treaty of Amity, also known as the Treaty of Ganghwa or Treaty of Kanghwa, was made between representatives of the Empire of Japan and the Kingdom of Joseon in 1876...

 was signed, marking the official opening of Korea to foreign trade, and Japan's first example of Western-style interventionism and adoption of "unequal treaties" tactics.

Soon, however domestic rebellions, the Saga Rebellion
Saga Rebellion
The was an 1874 uprisings in Kyūshū against the new Meiji government of Japan. It was led by Etō Shimpei and Shima Yoshitake in their native domain of Hizen.-Background:...

 (1874) and especially the Satsuma Rebellion
Satsuma Rebellion
The was a revolt of Satsuma ex-samurai against the Meiji government from January 29 to September 24, 1877, 9 years into the Meiji Era. It was the last, and the most serious, of a series of armed uprisings against the new government.-Background:...

 (1877), forced the government to focus on land warfare. Naval policy, expressed by the slogan Shusei Kokubō (Jp:{{lang|ja|守勢国防}}, lit. "Static Defense"), focused on coastal defenses, and a standing army (established with the assistance of the second French Military Mission to Japan
French Military Mission to Japan (1872-1880)
The 1872–1880 French Military Mission to Japan was the second French military mission to that country. It followed the first French Military Mission to Japan , which had ended with the Boshin War and the establishment of the rule of Emperor Meiji....

), and a coastal Navy, leading to a military organization under the Rikushu Kaijū (Jp:{{lang|ja|陸主海従}}, Army first, Navy second) principle.

In 1878, the Japanese cruiser Seiki sailed to Europe with an entirely Japanese crew.

Further modernization (1870s)


Ships such as the {{Ship|Japanese ironclad warship|Fusō||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese corvette|Kongō|1877|2}} and {{Ship|Japanese corvette|Hiei|1877|2}} were built in British shipyards specifically for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Private construction companies such as Ishikawajima
Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries
, formerly known as , is a Japanese company which produces ships, aero-engines, turbochargers for automobiles, industrial machines, power station boilers and other facilities, suspension bridges and other transport-related machinery....

 and Kawasaki also emerged around this time.

In 1883, two large warships were ordered from British shipyards. The {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Naniwa||2}} and {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Takachiho||2}} were 3,650 ton ships. They were capable of speeds up to 18 kn (35.3 km/h; 21.9 mph) and were armed with 54 to 76 mm (2.1 to 3 in) deck armor and two 260 mm (10 in) Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

 guns. The naval architect Sasō Sachū designed these on the line of the Elswick class of protected cruisers but with superior specifications. An arms race
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

 was taking place with China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 however, who equipped herself with two 7,335 ton German-built battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

s of (Ting Yüan and Chen-Yüan). Unable to confront the Chinese fleet with only two modern cruisers, Japan resorted to French assistance to build a large, modern fleet which could prevail in the upcoming conflict.

Influence of the French "Jeune École" (1880s)


During the 1880s, France took the lead in influence, due to its "Jeune École
Jeune Ecole
The Jeune École was a strategic naval concept developed during the 19th century. It advocated the use of small, powerfully equipped units to combat a larger battleship fleet, and commerce raiders capable of ending the trade of the rival nation...

" ("young school") doctrine, favoring small, fast warships, especially cruisers and torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

s, against bigger units. The choice of France may also have been influenced by the Minister of the Japanese Navy (海軍卿), who happened to be Enomoto Takeaki
Enomoto Takeaki
Viscount was a samurai and admiral of the Tokugawa navy of Bakumatsu period Japan, who remained faithful to the Tokugawa shogunate who fought against the new Meiji government until the end of the Boshin War...

 at that time (Navy Minister 1880–1885), a former ally of the French during the Boshin War. Also, Japan was uneasy with being dependent on Great Britain, at a time when Great Britain was very close to China.

The Meiji government issued its First Naval Expansion bill in 1882, requiring the construction of 48 warships, of which 22 were to be torpedo boats. The naval successes of the French Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 against China in the Sino-French War
Sino-French War
The Sino–French War was a limited conflict fought between August 1884 and April 1885 to decide whether France should replace China in control of Tonkin . As the French achieved their war aims, they are usually considered to have won the war...

 of 1883–85 seemed to validate the potential of torpedo boats, an approach which was also attractive to the limited resources of Japan. In 1885, the new Navy slogan became Kaikoku Nippon (Jp:海国日本, lit. "Maritime Japan").

In 1885, the leading French Navy engineer Emile Bertin
Louis-Émile Bertin
Louis-Émile Bertin was a French naval engineer, one of the foremost of his time, and a proponent of the "Jeune École" philosophy of using light, but powerfully armed warships instead of large battleships.-Early life:...

 was hired for four years to reinforce the Japanese Navy and to direct the construction of the arsenals of Kure
Kure, Hiroshima
is a city in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 240,820 and a population density of 681 persons per km². The total area is 353.74 km².- History :...

 and Sasebo
Sasebo, Nagasaki
is a city located in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. As of 2011, the city has an estimated population of 259,800 and the density of 609 persons per km². The total area is 426.47 km². The locality is famed for its scenic beauty. The city includes a part of Saikai National Park...

. He developed the Sanseikan class of cruisers; three units featuring a single powerful main gun, the 320 mm (13 in) Canet gun. Altogether, Bertin supervised the building of more than 20 units. They helped establish the first true modern naval force of Japan. It allowed Japan to achieve mastery in the building of large units, since some of the ships were imported, and some others were built domestically at the arsenal of Yokosuka
Yokosuka, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan. As of 2010, the city had an estimated population of 419,067 and a population density of 4,160 people per km². It covered an area of 100.62 km²...

:


  • 3 cruisers: the 4,700 ton {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Matsushima||2}} and {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Itsukushima||2}}, built in France, and the {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Hashidate||2}}, built at Yokosuka.
  • 3 coastal warships of 4,278 tons.
  • 2 small cruisers: the {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Chiyoda||2}}, a small cruiser of 2,439 tons built in Britain, and the {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Yaeyama||2}}, 1,800 tons, built at Yokosuka.
  • 1 frigate
    Frigate
    A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

    , the 1,600 ton {{Ship|Japanese warship|Takao||2}}, built at Yokosuka.
  • 1 destroyer
    Destroyer
    In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

    : the 726 ton {{Ship|Japanese warship|Chishima||2}}, built in France.
  • 16 torpedo boats of 54 tons each, built in France by the Companie du Creusot in 1888, and assembled in Japan.


This period also allowed Japan "to embrace the revolutionary new technologies embodied in torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es, torpedo-boats and mines
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

, of which the French at the time were probably the world's best exponents". Japan acquired its first torpedoes in 1884, and established a "Torpedo Training Center" at Yokosuka in 1886.

These ships, ordered during the fiscal years 1885 and 1886, were the last major orders placed with France. The unexplained sinking of {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Unebi||2}} en route from France to Japan in December 1886, created embarrassment however.

British shipbuilding


Japan turned again to Britain, with the order of a revolutionary torpedo boat, {{Ship|Japanese warship|Kotaka||2}} (considered the first effective design of a destroyer), in 1887 and with the purchase of {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Yoshino||2}}, built at the Armstrong
Armstrong Whitworth
Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. Headquartered in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong Whitworth engaged in the construction of armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft.-History:In 1847,...

 works in Elswick
Elswick, Tyne and Wear
Elswick is a ward of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in the western part of the city, bordering the river Tyne. One of the earliest references to the coal mining industry of the north east occurs in 1330, when it was recorded that the Prior of Tynemouth let a colliery, called Heygrove, at...

, Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

, the fastest cruiser in the world at the time of her launch in 1892. In 1889, she ordered the Clyde-built
River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....

 {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Chiyoda||2}}, which defined the type for armored cruiser
Armored cruiser
The armored cruiser was a type of warship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Like other types of cruiser, the armored cruiser was a long-range, independent warship, capable of defeating any ship apart from a battleship, and fast enough to outrun any battleships it encountered.The first...

s.

Between 1882 and 1918, ending with the visit of the French Military Mission to Japan
French Military Mission to Japan (1918-1919)
The French Aeronautical Mission to Japan , was the first foreign military mission to Japan since the 1890s.During the early 20th century, Japan realized it was inexperienced in newer military areas, such as aviation and naval aviation...

, the Imperial Japanese Navy stopped relying on foreign instructors altogether. In 1886, she manufactured her own prismatic powder
Brown powder
Brown powder or prismatic powder, sometimes referred as "cocoa powder" due to its color, is an explosive agent similar to black powder, but with a slower burning rate...

, and in 1892 one of her officers invented a powerful explosive, the Shimose powder
Shimose powder
Shimose powder was a type of explosive shell filling developed by the Japanese chemist Shimose Masachika . It was a form of picric acid used by France as melinite and by Britain as lyddite...

.

Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895)


{{main|First Sino-Japanese War}}
Japan continued the modernization of its navy, especially as China was also building a powerful modern fleet with foreign, especially German, assistance, and the pressure was building between the two countries to take control of Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

. The Sino-Japanese war
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 was officially declared on 1 August 1894, though some naval fighting had already taken place.
The Japanese navy devastated Qing's Beiyang Fleet
Beiyang Fleet
The Beiyang Fleet was one of the four modernised Chinese navies in the late Qing Dynasty. Among the four, the Beiyang Fleet was particularly sponsored by Li Hongzhang, one of the most trusted vassals of Empress Dowager Cixi and the principal patron of the "self-strengthening movement" in northern...

 off the mouth of the Yalu River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

 at the Battle of Yalu River
Battle of Yalu River (1894)
The Battle of the Yalu River , also called simply 'The Battle of Yalu' took place on September 17, 1894. It involved the Japanese and the Chinese navies, and was the largest naval engagement of the First Sino-Japanese War...

 on 17 September 1894, in which the Chinese fleet lost eight out of 12 warships. Although Japan turned out victorious, the two large German-made battleships of the Chinese Navy remained almost impervious to Japanese guns, highlighting the need for bigger capital ships in the Japanese Navy (Ting Yuan was finally sunk by torpedoes, and Chen-Yuan was captured with little damage). The next step of the Imperial Japanese Navy's expansion would thus involve a combination of heavily armed large warships, with smaller and innovative offensive units permitting aggressive tactics.

As a result of the conflict, under the Treaty of Shimonoseki
Treaty of Shimonoseki
The Treaty of Shimonoseki , known as the Treaty of Maguan in China, was signed at the Shunpanrō hall on April 17, 1895, between the Empire of Japan and Qing Empire of China, ending the First Sino-Japanese War. The peace conference took place from March 20 to April 17, 1895...

 (April 17, 1895), Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 and the Pescadores Islands were transferred to Japan. The Imperial Japanese Navy took possession of the island and quelled opposition movements between March to October 1895, and the islands continued to be a Japanese colony until 1945. Japan also obtained the Liaodong Peninsula, although she was forced by Russia to return it to China, only to see Russia take possession of it soon after.

Suppression of the Boxer rebellion (1900)



{{main|Boxer rebellion}}

The Imperial Japanese Navy further intervened in China in 1900, by participating together with Western Powers to the suppression of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

. The Navy supplied the largest number of warships (18 out of a total of 50), and delivered the largest contingent of troops among the intervening nations (20,840 Imperial Japanese Army and Navy soldiers, out of a total of 54,000).

The conflict allowed Japan to enter combat together with Western nations, and to acquire first hand understanding of their fighting methods.

Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905)


Following the Sino-Japanese War, and the humiliation of the forced return of the Liaotung peninsula to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 under Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n pressure (the "Triple Intervention
Triple Intervention
The was a diplomatic intervention by Russia, Germany, and France on 23 April 1895 over the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed between Japan and Qing dynasty China that ended the First Sino-Japanese War.-Treaty of Shimonoseki:...

"), Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 began to build up its military strength in preparation for further confrontations.
Japan promulgated a 10-year naval build-up program, under the slogan "Perseverance and determination" ({{lang|zh|臥薪嘗胆}}, Gashinshōtan), in which it commissioned 109 warships, for a total of 200,000 tons, and increased its Navy personnel from 15,100 to 40,800. The new fleet consisted of:
  • 6 battleship
    Battleship
    A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

    s (all British-built)
  • 8 armored cruiser
    Armored cruiser
    The armored cruiser was a type of warship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Like other types of cruiser, the armored cruiser was a long-range, independent warship, capable of defeating any ship apart from a battleship, and fast enough to outrun any battleships it encountered.The first...

    s (4 British-, 2 Italian-, 1 German-built Yakumo
    Japanese cruiser Yakumo
    was a 1st class armored cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, designed and built by the Stettiner Vulcan AG shipyards in Stettin, Germany. The Yakumo was named from a stanza of the Waka by Susanoo in the Japanese mythology.-Background:...

    , and 1 French-built Azuma
    Japanese cruiser Azuma
    was an armored cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, designed and built in France. The name Azuma comes from an ancient name for Japan in general, and the Kantō region of eastern Japan in particular.-Background:...

    )
  • 9 cruiser
    Cruiser
    A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

    s (5 Japanese, 2 British and 2 U.S.-built)
  • 24 destroyer
    Destroyer
    In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

    s (16 British- and 8 Japanese-built)
  • 63 torpedo boat
    Torpedo boat
    A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

    s (26 German-, 10 British-, 17 French-, and 10 Japanese-built)


One of these battleships, {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Mikasa||2}}, among the most powerful warships afloat when completed, was ordered from the Vickers
Vickers
Vickers was a famous name in British engineering that existed through many companies from 1828 until 1999.-Early history:Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor &...

 shipyard in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 at the end of 1898, for delivery to Japan in 1902. Commercial shipbuilding in Japan was exhibited by construction of the twin screw steamer Aki-Maru, built for Nippon Yusen Kaisha by the Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Group , Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company that consists of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy...

 Dockyard & Engine Works, Nagasaki. The Imperial Japanese cruiser {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Chitose||2}} was built at the Union Iron Works
Union Iron Works
Union Iron Works, located in San Francisco, California, on the southeast waterfront, was a central business within the large industrial zone of Potrero Point, for four decades at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.-History:...

 in San Francisco, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

These dispositions culminated with the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

. At the Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

, Admiral Togo (flag in Mikasa) led the Japanese Combined Fleet into the decisive engagement of the war. The Russian fleet was almost completely annihilated: out of 38 Russian ships, 21 were sunk, seven captured, six disarmed, 4,545 Russian servicemen died and 6,106 were taken prisoner. On the other hand, the Japanese only lost 116 men and three torpedo boats. These victories broke Russian strength in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, and triggered waves of mutinies in the Russian Navy at Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

, Vladivostok
Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

 and Kronstadt
Kronstadt
Kronstadt , also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt |crown]]" and Stadt for "city"); is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: It is also...

, peaking in June with the Potemkin uprising, thereby contributing to the Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

.

During the Russo-Japanese war, Japan also made frantic efforts to develop and construct a fleet of submarines. Submarines had only recently become operational military engines, and were considered to be special weapons of considerable potential.
The Imperial Japanese Navy acquired its first submarines in 1905 from Electric Boat Company
Electric Boat Corporation
The General Dynamics Electric Boat is a division of General Dynamics Corporation. It has been the primary builder of submarines for the United States Navy for over 100 years....

, barely four years after the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 had commissioned its own first submarine, {{USS|Holland|SS-1|6}}. The ships were Holland
John Philip Holland
John Philip Holland was an Irish engineer who developed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the U.S...

 designs and were developed under the supervision of Electric Boat's representative, Arthur L. Busch
Arthur Leopold Busch
Arthur Leopold Busch or Du Busc was a British-born American naval architect responsible for the development of the United States Navy's first submarines.-Career:...

. These five submarines (known as Holland Type VII's) were shipped in kit form to Japan (October 1904) and then assembled at the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
was one of four principal naval shipyards owned and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and was located at Yokosuka city, Kanagawa prefecture on Tokyo Bay, south of Yokohama...

, to become hulls No1 through 5, and became operational at the end of 1905.

Towards an autonomous national navy


Japan continued in its efforts to build up a strong national naval industry. Following a strategy of "copy, improve, innovate", foreign ships of various designs were usually analysed in depth, their specifications often improved on, and then were purchased in pairs so as to organize comparative testing and improvements. Over the years, the importation of whole classes of ships was progressively substituted by local assembly, and then complete local production, starting with the smallest ships, such as torpedo boats and cruisers in the 1880s, to finish with whole battleships in the early 20th century. The last major purchase was in 1913 when the battlecruiser
Battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...

 {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Kongō||2}} was purchased from the Vickers
Vickers
Vickers was a famous name in British engineering that existed through many companies from 1828 until 1999.-Early history:Vickers was formed in Sheffield as a steel foundry by the miller Edward Vickers and his father-in-law George Naylor in 1828. Naylor was a partner in the foundry Naylor &...

 shipyard. By 1918, there was no aspect of shipbuilding technology where Japanese capabilities fell significantly below world standards.

The period immediately after Tsushima also saw the IJN, under the influence of the navalist theoretician Satō Tetsutarō
Sato Tetsutaro
-Notes:...

, adopt an explicit policy of building for a potential future conflict against the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. Satō called for a battlefleet at least 70% as strong as that of the USA. In 1907, the official policy of the Navy became an 'eight-eight fleet
Eight-eight fleet
The was a Japanese naval strategy formulated for the development of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the first quarter of the 20th century, which laid down that the Japanese navy should include eight first-class battleships and eight armoured cruisers or battlecruisers.-History and development:The...

' of eight modern battleships and eight battlecruisers. However, financial constraints prevented this ideal ever becoming a reality.

By 1920, the Imperial Japanese Navy was the world's third largest navy and a leader in naval development:
  • Following its 1897 invention by Marconi
    Guglielmo Marconi
    Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor, known as the father of long distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi's law and a radio telegraph system. Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio, and indeed he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand...

    , the Japanese Navy was the first navy to employ wireless telegraphy
    Wireless telegraphy
    Wireless telegraphy is a historical term used today to apply to early radio telegraph communications techniques and practices, particularly those used during the first three decades of radio before the term radio came into use....

     in combat, at the 1905 Battle of Tsushima.
  • In 1905, it began building the battleship {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Satsuma||2}}, at the time the largest warship in the world by displacement, and the first ship to be designed, ordered and laid down as an "all-big-gun" battleship, about one year prior to the launching of {{HMS|Dreadnought|1906|6}}. However, due to a lack of material, she was completed with a mixed battery of rifles, launched on 15 November 1906, and completed on 25 March 1910.
  • Between 1903 and 1910, Japan began to build battleships domestically. The 1906 battleship Satsuma was built in Japan with about 80% material imported from Great Britain, with the following battleship class in 1909, the {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Kawachi||2}}, being built with only 20% imported parts.

World War I


{{main|Japan during World War I|Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I}}

Japan entered World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 on the side of the Allies, against Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, as a consequence of the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance
Anglo-Japanese Alliance
The first was signed in London at what is now the Lansdowne Club, on January 30, 1902, by Lord Lansdowne and Hayashi Tadasu . A diplomatic milestone for its ending of Britain's splendid isolation, the alliance was renewed and extended in scope twice, in 1905 and 1911, before its demise in 1921...

.

In the Battle of Tsingtao
Battle of Tsingtao
The Siege of Tsingtao was the attack on the German-controlled port of Tsingtao in China during World War I by Imperial Japan and the United Kingdom....

, the Japanese Navy seized the German naval base of Tsingtao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

. During the battle, beginning on 5 September 1914, Wakamiya conducted the world's first successful sea-launched air strikes. from Kiaochow Bay. Four Maurice Farman
Maurice Farman
Maurice Alain Farman was a French Grand Prix motor racing champion, an aviator, and an aircraft manufacturer and designer.-Biography:...

 seaplanes bombarded German land targets (communication centers and command centers) and damaged a German minelayer in the Tsingtao peninsula from September to 6 November 1914 when the Germans surrendered.

Concurrently, a battle group was sent to the central Pacific in August and September to pursue the German East Asiatic squadron, which then moved into the Southern Atlantic, where it encountered British naval forces and was destroyed at the Battle of the Falkland Islands
Battle of the Falkland Islands
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic...

. Japan seized former German possessions in Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 (the Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

, excluding Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

); the Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

; and the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

), which remained Japanese colonies until the end of World War II, under the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

' South Pacific Mandate
South Pacific Mandate
The was the Japanese League of Nations mandate consisting of several groups of islands in the Pacific Ocean which came under the administration of Japan after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.-Early history:Under the terms of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, after the start of World...

.

Hard pressed in Europe, where she had only a narrow margin of superiority against Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Britain had requested, but was denied, the loan of Japan's four newest Kongō-class battlecruiser
Kongo class battlecruiser
The were a class of ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy constructed immediately before World War I. Designed by British naval architect George Thurston, the lead ship of the class was the last Japanese capital ship constructed outside of Japan. Displacing upon completion, the vessels of this...

s (Kongō, {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Hiei||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Haruna||2}}, and {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Kirishima||2}}), the first ships in the world to be equipped with 356 mm (14 in) guns, and the most formidable battlecruisers in the world at the time.

Following a further request to contribute to the conflict, and the advent of unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare is a type of naval warfare in which submarines sink merchantmen without warning, as opposed to attacks per prize rules...

 by Germany, the Imperial Navy in March 1917 sent a special force of destroyers to the Mediterranean. This force, consisting of one armoured cruiser, {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Akashi||2}}, as flotilla leader
Flotilla leader
A flotilla leader was a warship suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships, typically a small cruiser or a large destroyer...

, and eight of the Navy's newest destroyers ({{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Ume||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Kusunoki||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Kaede||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Katsura||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Kashiwa||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Matsu||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Sugi||2}}, and {{Ship|Japanese destroyer|Sakaki||2}}), under Admiral Satō Kōzō, was based in Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 and efficiently protected allied shipping between Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

, Taranto
Taranto
Taranto is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base....

, and ports in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 until the end of the War. In June, Akashi was replaced by {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Izumo||2}}, and four more destroyers were added (Kashi, Hinoki, Momo, and Yanagi). They were later joined by the cruiser {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Nisshin||2}}. By the end of the war, the Japanese had escorted 788 allied transports. One destroyer, Sakaki, was torpedoed by an Austrian submarine with the loss of 59 officers and men.

In 1918, ships such as {{Ship|Japanese cruiser|Azuma||2}} were assigned to convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 escort in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 between Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 and the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 as part of Japan’s contribution to the war effort under the Anglo-Japanese alliance
Anglo-Japanese Alliance
The first was signed in London at what is now the Lansdowne Club, on January 30, 1902, by Lord Lansdowne and Hayashi Tadasu . A diplomatic milestone for its ending of Britain's splendid isolation, the alliance was renewed and extended in scope twice, in 1905 and 1911, before its demise in 1921...

.

After the conflict, the Japanese Navy received seven German submarines as spoils of war, which were brought to Japan and analysed, contributing greatly to the development of the Japanese submarine industry.

Interwar years


In the years before
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the IJN began to structure itself specifically to fight the United States. A long stretch of militaristic
Militarism
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

 expansion and the start of the Second Sino-Japanese war
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 in 1937 had exacerbated tensions with the United States, which was seen as a rival of Japan.
The Imperial Japanese Navy was faced, before and during World War II, with considerable challenges, probably more so than any other navy in the world. Japan, like Britain, was almost entirely dependent on foreign resources to supply its economy. To achieve Japan’s expansionist policies, IJN had to secure and protect distant sources of raw material (especially Southeast Asian oil and raw materials), controlled by foreign countries (Britain, France, and the Netherlands). To achieve this goal, she had to build large warships capable of long range.

This was in conflict with Japan's doctrine of "decisive battle" ({{lang|ja|艦隊決戦}}, Kantai kessen
Kantai kessen
The was a naval strategy adopted by the Imperial Japanese Navy following the Russo-Japanese War. It called on the use of a strong battleship force, which would destroy an invading fleet as it approached Japan after suffering losses through attrition as it penetrated Japanese perimeter defenses.The...

, which did not require long range), in which IJN would allow the U.S. to sail across the Pacific, using submarines to weaken it, then engage the U.S. Navy in a "decisive battle area", near Japan, after inflicting such attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

. This is in keeping with the theory of Alfred T. Mahan, to which every major navy subscribed before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, in which wars would be decided by engagements between opposing surface fleets (as they had been for over 300 years). Following the dictates of Satō (who doubtless was influenced by Mahan), it was the basis for Japan's demand for a 70% ratio (10:10:7) at the Washington Naval Conference
Washington Naval Conference
The Washington Naval Conference also called the Washington Arms Conference, was a military conference called by President Warren G. Harding and held in Washington from 12 November 1921 to 6 February 1922. Conducted outside the auspices of the League of Nations, it was attended by nine nations...

, which would give Japan superiority in the "decisive battle area", and the U.S.' insistence on a 60% ratio, which meant parity. Japan, unlike other navies, clung to it even after it had been demonstrated to be obsolete.

It was also in conflict with her past experience. Japan's numerical and industrial inferiority led her to seek technical superiority (fewer, but faster, more powerful ships), qualitative superiority (better training), and aggressive tactics (daring and speedy attacks overwhelming the enemy, a recipe for success in her previous conflicts). She failed to take account of the fact her opponents in the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 did not face the political and geographical constraints of her previous wars, nor did she allow for losses in ships and crews.

Between the wars, Japan took the lead in many areas of warship development:
  • In 1921, it launched the {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Hōshō||2}}, the first purpose-designed aircraft carrier
    Aircraft carrier
    An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

     in the world to be completed, and subsequently developed a fleet of aircraft carriers second to none.
  • In keeping with its doctrine, the Imperial Navy was the first navy in the World to mount 356 mm (14 in) guns (in Kongō), 406 mm (16 in) guns (in {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Nagato||2}}), and the only Navy ever to mount 460 mm (18 in) guns (in the Yamato-class
    Yamato class battleship
    The were battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy constructed and operated during World War II. Displacing at full load, the vessels were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed. The class carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to a warship, nine naval...

    ).
  • In 1928, she launched the innovative Fubuki-class
    Fubuki class destroyer
    The was a class of twenty four destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Fubuki class has been called "the world's first modern destroyer." The Fubuki class not only set a new standard for Japanese vessels, but for destroyers around the world...

     destroyer
    Destroyer
    In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

    , introducing enclosed dual 127 mm (5 in) turrets capable of anti-aircraft fire. The new destroyer design was soon emulated by other navies. The Fubukis also featured the first torpedo tube
    Torpedo tube
    A torpedo tube is a device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units installed aboard surface vessels...

    s enclosed in splinterproof turret
    Turret
    In architecture, a turret is a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle. Turrets were used to provide a projecting defensive position allowing covering fire to the adjacent wall in the days of military fortification...

    s.
  • Japan developed the 610 mm (24 in) oxygen fuelled Type 93 torpedo
    Type 93 torpedo
    The Type 93 was a -diameter torpedo of the Imperial Japanese Navy , launched from surface ships. It is commonly referred to as the Long Lance by most modern English-language naval historians, a nickname given it after the war by Samuel E. Morison, the chief historian of the U.S...

    , generally recognized as the best torpedo in the world, to the end of World War II.


By 1921, Japan's naval expenditure reached nearly 32% of the national budget. In 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy possessed 10 battleships, 10 aircraft carriers, 38 cruisers (heavy and light), 112 destroyers, 65 submarines, and various auxiliary ships.

Japan at times continued to solicit foreign expertise in areas in which the IJN was inexperienced, such as naval aviation. In 1918, Japan invited the French Military Mission to Japan (1918-1919)
French Military Mission to Japan (1918-1919)
The French Aeronautical Mission to Japan , was the first foreign military mission to Japan since the 1890s.During the early 20th century, Japan realized it was inexperienced in newer military areas, such as aviation and naval aviation...

, composed of 50 members and equipped with several of the newest types of airplanes to establish the fundamentals of Japanese naval aviation (the planes were several Salmson 2
Salmson 2
|-References:* Davilla, James J., & Soltan, Arthur M., French Aircraft of the First World War. Stratford, Connecticut: Flying Machines Press, 1997. ISBN 0-9637110-4-0...

A2, Nieuport
Nieuport
Nieuport, later Nieuport-Delage, was a French aeroplane company that primarily built racing aircraft before World War I and fighter aircraft during World War I and between the wars.-Beginnings:...

, Spad XIII, two Breguet XIV, as well as Caquot dirigibles). In 1921, Japan hosted for a year and a half the Sempill Mission
Sempill Mission
The Sempill Mission was a British aeronaval technical mission led by Captain the Master of Sempill and sent to Japan in September 1921, with the objective of helping the Imperial Japanese Navy develop its aeronaval forces...

, a group of British instructors who were able to train and advise the Imperial Japanese Navy on several new aircraft such as the Gloster
Gloster Aircraft Company
The Gloster Aircraft Company, Limited, known locally as GAC, was a British aircraft manufacturer. The company produced a famous lineage of fighters for the Royal Air Force : the Grebe, Gladiator, Meteor and Javelin. It also produced the Hawker Hurricane and Hawker Typhoon for the parent company...

 Sparrowhawk
Gloster Sparrowhawk
|-See also:-External links:*...

, and on various techniques such as torpedo bombing and flight control.

During the pre-war years, two schools of thought battled over whether the Navy should be organized around powerful battleships, ultimately able to defeat American ones in Japanese waters, or around aircraft carriers. Neither really prevailed, and both lines of ships were developed, with the result neither solution displayed overwhelming strength over the American adversary. A consistent weakness of Japanese warship development was the tendency to incorporate too much armament, and too much engine power, in comparison to ship size (a side-effect of the Washington Treaty), leading to shortcomings in stability, protection and structural strength.

World War II


{{main|Imperial Japanese Navy of World War II}}
Imperial Japanese Navy vs US Navy shipbuilding
(1937–1945, in Standard Tons Displacement
Displacement (ship)
A ship's displacement is its weight at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship's weight when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load...

)
IJN USN
1937 45,000 75,000
1938 40,000 80,000
1939 35,000 70,000
1940 50,000 50,000
1941 180,000 130,000
1942-45 550,000 3,200,000

The IJN of World War II was administered by the Ministry of the Navy of Japan
Ministry of the Navy of Japan
The was a cabinet-level ministry in the Empire of Japan charged with the administrative affairs of the Imperial Japanese Navy . It existed from 1872 to 1945.-History:...

 and controlled by the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
The was the highest organ within the Imperial Japanese Navy. In charge of planning and operations, it was headed by an Admiral headquartered in Tokyo.-History:...

 at Imperial General Headquarters
Imperial General Headquarters
The as part of the Supreme War Council was established in 1893 to coordinate efforts between the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during wartime...

. In order to combat the numerically superior American navy, the IJN devoted large amounts of resources to creating a force superior in quality, the objective being of "making up for quantity by means of quality". Consequently, at the beginning of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Japan probably had the most sophisticated Navy in the world. Betting on the agile success of aggressive tactics (stemming from Mahanian doctrine and the lure of "decisive battle"), Japan did not invest significantly on defensive organization: she needed to protect her long shipping lines against enemy submarines, which she never managed to do, particularly under-investing in the vital role of antisubmarine warfare (both escort ships and escort carriers), and in the specialized training and organization to support it.

IJN enjoyed spectacular success during the first part of the hostilities, but American forces ultimately managed to gain the upper hand through technological upgrades to its air and naval forces and a vastly greater industrial output. Japan's reluctance to use their submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 fleet for commerce raiding and failure to secure their communications also hastened her defeat. During the last phase of the war, the Imperial Japanese Navy resorted to a series of desperate measures, including a variety of Special Attack Units
Japanese Special Attack Units
During World War II, Japanese Special Attack Units , also called shimbu-tai, were specialized units of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army normally used for suicide missions...

 (popularly called kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

).

Battleships


Japan continued to attribute considerable prestige to battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

s and endeavoured to build the largest and most powerful ships of the period. {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Yamato||2}}, the largest and most heavily-armed battleship in history, was launched in 1941.

The second half of World War II saw the last battleship duels. In the Battle of Guadalcanal
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, sometimes referred to as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, the Battle of the Solomons, The Battle of Friday the 13th, or, in Japanese sources, as the , took place from 12–15 November 1942, and was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles...

 on 15 November 1942, the U.S. battleships {{USS|South Dakota|BB-57|6}} and {{USS|Washington|BB-56|2}} fought and destroyed the Japanese battleship {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Kirishima||2}}, but only after South Dakota had sustained heavy damage. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf
Battle of Leyte Gulf
The Battle of Leyte Gulf, also called the "Battles for Leyte Gulf", and formerly known as the "Second Battle of the Philippine Sea", is generally considered to be the largest naval battle of World War II and, by some criteria, possibly the largest naval battle in history.It was fought in waters...

 on 25 October 1944 six battleships, led by Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf
Jesse B. Oldendorf
Jesse Bartlett "Oley" Oldendorf was an admiral in the United States Navy, famous for defeating a Japanese force in the Battle of Leyte Gulf during World War II...

 of the U.S. 7th Fleet
United States Seventh Fleet
The Seventh Fleet is the United States Navy's permanent forward projection force based in Yokosuka, Japan, with units positioned near Japan and South Korea. It is a component fleet force under the United States Pacific Fleet. At present, it is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with...

, fired upon and claimed credit for sinking Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura's battleships {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Yamashiro||2}} and {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Fusō||2}} during the Battle of Surigao Strait; in fact, both battleships were fatally crippled by destroyer attacks before being brought under fire by Oldendorf's old battleships.

Nevertheless, the Battle off Samar
Battle off Samar
The Battle off Samar was the centermost action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, which took place in the Philippine Sea off Samar Island, in the Philippines on 25 October 1944...

 on 25 October 1944 during the Battle of Leyte Gulf
Battle of Leyte Gulf
The Battle of Leyte Gulf, also called the "Battles for Leyte Gulf", and formerly known as the "Second Battle of the Philippine Sea", is generally considered to be the largest naval battle of World War II and, by some criteria, possibly the largest naval battle in history.It was fought in waters...

 showed battleships could still be useful. Only the indecision of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita
Takeo Kurita
Vice Admiral was a vice-admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.-Early life:Kurita was born in Mito city, Ibaraki Prefecture in 1889. He was sent off to Etajima in 1905 and graduated from the 38th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1910, ranked 28th out of a class of...

 and the fight by American destroyers and destroyer escort
Destroyer escort
A destroyer escort is the classification for a smaller, lightly armed warship designed to be used to escort convoys of merchant marine ships, primarily of the United States Merchant Marine in World War II. It is employed primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but also provides some protection...

s saved the American escort carriers of "Taffy 3" from destruction by the gunfire of Yamato, Kongō, Haruna, and Nagato and their cruiser escort. Miraculously for the Americans, only one escort carrier, two destroyers, and one destroyer escort were lost in this action.

Ultimately, the maturity of air power spelled doom for the battleship. Battleships in the Pacific ended up primarily performing shore bombardment and anti-aircraft defense for the carriers. Yamato and {{Ship|Japanese battleship|Musashi||2}} were sunk by air attacks long before coming in gun range of the American fleet. As a result of the changing technology, plans for even larger battleships, such as the Japanese Super Yamato class battleship, were cancelled.

Aircraft carriers



In the 1920s, the {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Kaga||2}} (originally laid down as a battleship) and a similar ship, the {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Akagi||2}} (originally laid down as a battlecruiser) were converted to aircraft carriers to satisfy the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

. From 1935-1938, Akagi and Kaga received extensive rebuilds to improve their aircraft handling capacity.

Japan put particular emphasis on aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s. The Imperial Japanese Navy started the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 with 10 aircraft carriers, the largest and most modern carrier fleet in the world at that time. There were seven American aircraft carriers at the beginning of hostilities, only three operating in the Pacific; and eight British aircraft carriers, of which a single one operated in the Indian Ocean. The IJN's two {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Shōkaku||2}}-class carriers were superior to any carrier in the world, until the wartime appearance of the American Essex
Essex class aircraft carrier
The Essex class was a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, which constituted the 20th century's most numerous class of capital ships with 24 vessels built in both "short-hull" and "long-hull" versions. Thirty-two were originally ordered; however as World War II wound down, six were...

-class. A large number of these Japanese carriers were of small size, however, in accordance with the limitations placed upon the Navy by the London and Washington Naval Conferences.

Following the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, in which four Japanese fleet carriers were sunk, the IJN suddenly found itself short of fleet carriers (as well as trained aircrews), resulting in an ambitious set of projects to convert commercial and military vessels into escort carriers, such as the {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Hiyō||2}}. Another conversion project, {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Shinano||2}}, was based on an incomplete Yamato-class super battleship and became the largest-displacement carrier of World War II. The IJN also attempted to build a number of fleet carriers, though most of these projects were not completed by the end of the war. One exception being the {{Ship|Japanese aircraft carrier|Taihō||2}}, which was the only Japanese carrier with an armored flight deck and first to incorporate a closed hurricane bow. All three mid-war designs were sunk in 1944, with Shinano and Taiho being sunk by U.S. submarines, and Hiyo by air attacks.

Naval aviation


{{main|Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service}}
Japan began the war with a highly competent naval air force designed around some of the best airplanes in the world: the A6M Zero
A6M Zero
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a long-range fighter aircraft operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945. The A6M was designated as the , and also designated as the Mitsubishi A6M Rei-sen and Mitsubishi Navy 12-shi Carrier Fighter. The A6M was usually referred to by the...

 was considered the best carrier aircraft of the beginning of the war, the Mitsubishi G3M
Mitsubishi G3M
The Mitsubishi G3M was a Japanese bomber used during World War II.-Design and development:...

 bomber was remarkable for its range and speed, and the Kawanishi H8K
Kawanishi H8K
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgeman, Leonard. "The Kawanishi H8K2 “Emily”" Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0....

 was the world's best flying boat. The Japanese pilot corps at the beginning of the war were of high caliber as compared to their contemporaries around the world due to intense training and frontline experience in the Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

. The Navy also had a competent tactical bombing force based around the Mitsubishi G3M and G4M
Mitsubishi G4M
The Mitsubishi G4M 一式陸上攻撃機, 一式陸攻 Isshiki rikujō kōgeki ki, Isshikirikkō was the main twin-engine, land-based bomber used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. The Allies gave the G4M the reporting name Betty...

 bombers, which astonished the world by being the first planes to sink enemy capital ships underway, claiming battleship Prince of Wales
Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse
The sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse was a Second World War naval engagement that took place north of Singapore, off the east coast of Malaya, near Kuantan, Pahang where the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and...

 and the battlecruiser Repulse
Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse
The sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse was a Second World War naval engagement that took place north of Singapore, off the east coast of Malaya, near Kuantan, Pahang where the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and...

.

As the war progressed, the Allies found weaknesses in Japanese naval aviation. Though most Japanese aircraft were characterized by great operating ranges, they had very little in the way of defensive armament and armor. As a result, the more numerous, heavily armed and armored American aircraft were able to develop techniques that nullified the advantages of the Japanese aircraft. Although there were delays in engine development, several new competitive designs were developed during the war, but industrial weaknesses, lack of raw materials and disorganization due to Allied bombing raids hampered their mass-production. Furthermore, the IJN did not have an efficient process for rapid training of aviators, as two years of training were usually considered necessary for a carrier flyer. Therefore, they were not able to effectively replace seasoned pilots lost through combat attrition following their initial successes in the Pacific campaign. The inexperience of IJN pilots who were trained in the later part of the war was especially evident during the Battle of the Philippine Sea
Battle of the Philippine Sea
The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a decisive naval battle of World War II which effectively eliminated the Imperial Japanese Navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions. It took place during the United States' amphibious invasion of the Mariana Islands during the Pacific War...

, when their aircraft were shot down in droves by the American naval pilots in what the Americans later called the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". Following the Battle of Leyte Gulf
Battle of Leyte Gulf
The Battle of Leyte Gulf, also called the "Battles for Leyte Gulf", and formerly known as the "Second Battle of the Philippine Sea", is generally considered to be the largest naval battle of World War II and, by some criteria, possibly the largest naval battle in history.It was fought in waters...

, the Japanese Navy increasingly opted towards deploying aircraft in the kamikaze role.
Towards the end of the conflict, several competitive plane designs were developed, such as the 1943 Shiden
Kawanishi N1K-J
The Kawanishi N1K Kyōfū was an Imperial Japanese Navy floatplane fighter. The Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden was an Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service land-based version of the N1K...

, but such planes were produced too late and in insufficient numbers (415 units for the Shiden) to affect the outcome of the war. Radical new plane designs were also developed, such as the canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

 design Shinden
Kyushu J7W
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co. Ltd., 1961 . ISBN 0-356-01447-9....

, and especially jet-powered aircraft such as the Nakajima Kikka and the rocket-propelled Mitsubishi J8M
Mitsubishi J8M
The Mitsubishi J8M Shūsui was a Japanese World War II rocket-powered interceptor aircraft closely based on the German Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet.Built as a joint project for both the Navy and the Army Air Services, it was designated J8M...

. These jet designs were partially based on technology received from Nazi Germany, usually in the form of a few drawings only, Kikka being based on the Messerschmitt Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 262
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems prevented the aircraft from attaining operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944...

 and the J8M on the Messerschmitt Me 163
Messerschmitt Me 163
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Messerschmitt...

), so Japanese manufacturers had to play a key role in the final engineering. These developments also happened too late in the conflict to have any influence on the outcome. The Kikka only flew twice before the end of the war.

Submarines


{{main|Imperial Japanese Navy submarines}}

Japan had by far the most varied fleet of submarines of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, including manned torpedoes (Kaiten
Kaiten
The Kaiten were manned torpedos and suicide craft, they were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final stages of World War II.-History:...

), midget submarines (Ko-hyoteki
Ko-hyoteki class submarine
The class was a class of Japanese midget submarines used during World War II. They had hull numbers but no names. For simplicity, they are most often referred to by the hull number of the mother submarine...

, Kairyu
Kairyu class submarine
The was a class of midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, designed in 1943–1944, and produced from the beginning of 1945. These submarines were meant to meet the invading American naval forces upon their anticipated approach of Tokyo.-History:...

), medium-range submarines, purpose-built supply submarines (many for use by the Army), long-range fleet submarines (many of which carried an aircraft), submarines with the highest submerged speeds of the conflict (Senkou I-201
I-200 class submarine
The were submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. These submarines were of advanced design, built for high underwater speed, and were known as or...

), and submarines that could carry multiple bombers (World War II's largest submarine, the Sentoku I-400
I-400 class submarine
The Imperial Japanese Navy submarines were the largest submarines of World War II and remained the largest ever built until the construction of nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s. They were submarine aircraft carriers able to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their...

). These submarines were also equipped with the most advanced torpedo of the conflict, the Type 95 torpedo
Type 95 torpedo
The Type 95 torpedo was a torpedo of the Imperial Japanese Navy.It was based on the formidable Type 93 torpedo but had a smaller warhead, shorter range and a smaller diameter...

, a 533 mm (21 in) version of the famous 610 mm (24 in) Type 93.

A plane from one such long-range fleet submarine, I-25, conducted the only aerial bombing attack on the continental United States when Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita
Nobuo Fujita
was a Warrant Flying Officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy who flew a floatplane from the long-range submarine aircraft carrier , and conducted the only wartime aircraft-dropped bombing on the continental United States of America, which became known as the Lookout Air Raid...

 attempted to start massive forest fires in the Pacific Northwest outside the town of Brookings
Brookings, Oregon
Brookings is a city in Curry County, Oregon, United States. It was named after John E. Brookings, president of the Brookings Lumber and Box Company, which founded the city in 1908. As of the 2010 census the population was 6,336. The total population of the Brookings area is over 13,000, which...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 on September 9, 1942. Other submarines undertook trans-oceanic missions to German-occupied Europe, such as {{Ship|Japanese submarine|I-30||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese submarine|I-8||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese submarine|I-34||2}}, {{Ship|Japanese submarine|I-29||2}} and {{Ship|Japanese submarine|I-52|1943|2}}, in one case flying a Japanese seaplane
Seaplane
A seaplane is a fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are a subclass called amphibian aircraft...

 over France in a propaganda coup. In May 1942, Type A
Ko-hyoteki class submarine
The class was a class of Japanese midget submarines used during World War II. They had hull numbers but no names. For simplicity, they are most often referred to by the hull number of the mother submarine...

 midget submarines were used in the attack on Sydney Harbour
Attack on Sydney Harbour
In late May and early June 1942, during World War II, submarines belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy made a series of attacks on the cities of Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia...

 and the Battle of Madagascar
Battle of Madagascar
The Battle of Madagascar was the Allied campaign to capture Vichy-French-controlled Madagascar during World War II. It began on 5 May 1942. Fighting did not cease until 6 November.-Geo-political:...

.
Sinking of merchant shipping,
during World War II.
Submarines
(number)
Ships sunk
(number)
Tonnage sunk
(tons)
Germany 1,000 2,000 14.5 million
United States 1,079 4.65 million
Great Britain 493 1.5 million
Japan 184 170 1 million

Overall however, Japanese submarines were relatively unsuccessful. They were often used in offensive roles against warships (per Mahanian doctrine), which were fast, maneuverable and well-defended compared to merchant ships. In 1942, Japanese submarines managed to sink two fleet carriers (Yorktown
USS Yorktown (CV-5)
was an aircraft carrier commissioned in the United States Navy from 1937 until she was sunk at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. She was named after the Battle of Yorktown in 1781 and the lead ship of the Yorktown class which was designed after lessons learned from operations with the large...

and Wasp
USS Wasp (CV-7)
USS Wasp was a United States Navy aircraft carrier. The eighth Navy ship of that name, she was the sole ship of her class. Built to use up the remaining tonnage allowed to the U.S. for aircraft carriers under the treaties of the time, she was built on a reduced-size version of the Yorktown-class...

), one cruiser, and a few destroyers and other warships, and damage several others (aircraft carrier Saratoga
USS Saratoga (CV-3)
USS Saratoga was the second aircraft carrier of the United States Navy and the fifth ship to bear her name. She was commissioned one month earlier than her sister and class leader, , which is the third actually commissioned after and Saratoga...

). They were not able to sustain these results afterwards, as Allied fleets were reinforced and started using better anti-submarine tactics. By the end of the war, submarines were instead often used to transport supplies to island garrisons. During the war, Japan managed to sink about 1 million tons of merchant shipping (170 ships) with her 184 submarines, compared to 1.5 million tons for Britain (493 ships), 4.65 million tons for the US (1079 ships) and 14.5 million tons for Germany (2,000 ships) with her 1,000 U-Boats.

Early models were not very maneuverable under water, could not dive very deep, and lacked radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

. Later in the war, units fitted with radar were in some instances sunk due to the ability of US radar sets to detect their emissions. For example, {{USS|Batfish|SS-310|6}} sank three such in the span of four days. After the end of the conflict, several of Japan's most original submarines were sent to Hawaii for inspection in "Operation Road's End" (I-400
I-400 class submarine
The Imperial Japanese Navy submarines were the largest submarines of World War II and remained the largest ever built until the construction of nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s. They were submarine aircraft carriers able to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their...

, I-401, I-201
I-200 class submarine
The were submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. These submarines were of advanced design, built for high underwater speed, and were known as or...

 and I-203) before being scuttled by the U.S. Navy in 1946 when the Soviets demanded access to the submarines as well.

Special Attack Units



{{main|Japanese Special Attack Units}}

At the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, numerous Special Attack Units
Japanese Special Attack Units
During World War II, Japanese Special Attack Units , also called shimbu-tai, were specialized units of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army normally used for suicide missions...

 (Japanese: 特別攻撃隊, tokubetsu kōgeki tai, also abbreviated to 特攻隊, tokkōtai) were developed for suicide missions, in a desperate move to compensate for the annihilation of the main fleet. These units included Kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

("Divine Wind") bombers, Shinyo ("Sea Quake") suicide boats, Kairyu
Kairyu class submarine
The was a class of midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, designed in 1943–1944, and produced from the beginning of 1945. These submarines were meant to meet the invading American naval forces upon their anticipated approach of Tokyo.-History:...

("Sea Dragon") suicide midget submarine
Midget submarine
A midget submarine is any submarine under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 8, with little or no on-board living accommodation...

s, Kaiten
Kaiten
The Kaiten were manned torpedos and suicide craft, they were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final stages of World War II.-History:...

("Turn of Heaven") suicide torpedoes, and Fukuryu
Fukuryu
Suicide divers were a part of the Japanese Special Attack Units prepared to resist the invasion of the Home islands by Allied forces. They were armed with a mine containing of explosive, fitted to a bamboo pole. They would dive and stick the pole into the hull of an enemy ship, destroying...

("Crouching Dragon") suicide scuba divers who would swim under boats and use explosives mounted on bamboo poles to destroy both the boat and themselves. Kamikaze planes were particularly effective during the defense of Okinawa, in which about 2,000 planes were sent to sink 34 warships and damage around 364.

A considerable number of Special Attack Units were built and stored in coastal hideouts for the desperate defense of the Home islands, with the potential to destroy or damage thousands of enemy warships.

Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces


Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces
Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces
Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces of World War II originated with the Special Naval Landing Forces, and eventually consisted of the following:...

 of World War II originated with the Special Naval Landing Forces, and eventually consisted of the following:
  • Special Naval Landing Force or Rikusentai or kaigun rikusentai or Tokubetsu Rikusentai: the Japanese Marines
  • The Base Force or Tokubetsu Konkyochitai provided services, primarily security, to naval facilities
  • Defence units or Bobitai or Boei-han: detachments of 200 to 400 men.
  • Guard forces or Keibitai: detachments of 200–500 men who provide security to Imperial Japanese Navy facilities
  • Pioneers or Setsueitai built naval facilities, including airstrips, on remote islands.
  • Naval Civil Engineering and Construction Units, or Kaigun Kenchiku Shisetsu Butai
  • The Naval Communications Units or Tsushintai of 600–1,000 men to provide basic naval communications and also handled encryption and decryption.
  • The Tokkeitai
    Tokkeitai
    Tokkeitai may refer to;Tokkeitai is abbreviated name of Tokubetsukeibitai*Special Boarding Unit, special forces unit of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force*Tokubetsukeibitai *Tokubetsukeibitai...

    Navy military police
    Military police
    Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

     units were part of the naval intelligence armed branch, with military police regular functions in naval installations and occupied territories; they also worked with the Imperial Japanese Army
    Imperial Japanese Army
    -Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

    's Kempeitai
    Kempeitai
    The was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945. It was not an English-style military police, but a French-style gendarmerie...

    military police, the Keishicho civil police and Tokko
    Tokko
    ', often shortened to ' was a police force established in 1911 in Japan, specifically to investigate and control political groups and ideologies deemed to be a threat to public order....

     secret units in security and intelligence services.

Self-Defense Forces



{{main|Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force}}

Following Japan's surrender to the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 at the conclusion of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and Japan's subsequent occupation, Japan's entire imperial military was dissolved in the new 1947 constitution
Constitution of Japan
The is the fundamental law of Japan. It was enacted on 3 May, 1947 as a new constitution for postwar Japan.-Outline:The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental rights...

 which states, "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes." Japan's current navy falls under the umbrella of the Japan Self-Defense Forces
Japan Self-Defense Forces
The , or JSDF, occasionally referred to as JSF or SDF, are the unified military forces of Japan that were established after the end of the post–World War II Allied occupation of Japan. For most of the post-war period the JSDF was confined to the islands of Japan and not permitted to be deployed...

 (JSDF) as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
The , or JMSDF, is the naval branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, tasked with the naval defense of Japan. It was formed following the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy after World War II....

 (JMSDF).

See also

  • Ministry of the Military (Ritsuryō)
    Ministry of the Military (Ritsuryō)
    The , also known as Ministry of War and sometimes called Tsuwamono no Tsukasa, was a division of the eighth century Japanese government of the Imperial Court in Kyoto, instituted in the Asuka period and formalized during the Heian period...

  • Combined Fleet
    Combined Fleet
    The was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime....

  • Carrier Striking Task Force
  • Naval history of Japan
    Naval history of Japan
    The naval history of Japan can be said to begin in early interactions with states on the Asian continent in the early centuries of the 1st millennium, reaching a pre-modern peak of activity during the 16th century, a time of cultural exchange with European powers and extensive trade with the Asian...

  • Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation Bureau
    Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation Bureau
    The Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of the Navy of Japan was responsible for the development and training of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service...

  • Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces
    Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces
    The Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces , were the marine troops of the Imperial Japanese Navy and were a part of the IJN Land Forces...

  • Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces
    Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces
    Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces of World War II originated with the Special Naval Landing Forces, and eventually consisted of the following:...

  • Imperial Japanese Navy Armor Units
    Imperial Japanese Navy Armor Units
    This is a list of Imperial Japanese Navy armored units that were equipped with Type 89 Chi-Ro Medium Tank, Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank, Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium Tank and the Type 2 Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank.*Shanghai SNLF Tank Company...

  • Tokkeitai
    Tokkeitai
    Tokkeitai may refer to;Tokkeitai is abbreviated name of Tokubetsukeibitai*Special Boarding Unit, special forces unit of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force*Tokubetsukeibitai *Tokubetsukeibitai...

    - Navy Military Police
  • Imperial Japanese Navy fuel
    Imperial Japanese Navy fuel
    While other navies used highly refined burner oil, in the last stages of World War II the Imperial Japanese Navy was directly using high quality crude oil obtained from the captured East Indian colonial possessions of the Netherlands and France...

  • List of Japanese Navy ships and war vessels in World War II
  • "Strike South"
    Nanshin-ron
    The was a political doctrine in the pre-WW2 Japan which stated that Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands were Japan's sphere of interest and that the potential value to the Japanese Empire for economic and territorial expansion in those areas was greater than elsewhere.This political doctrine...

     Doctrine
  • Fleet Faction
    Fleet Faction
    The was an unofficial and informal political faction within the Imperial Japanese Navy in the 1920s-1930s of officers opposed to the conditions imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty.-Background:...

     – Navy political group
  • Treaty Faction
    Treaty Faction
    The was an unofficial and informal political faction within the Imperial Japanese Navy in the 1920s-1930s of officers supporting the Washington Naval Treaty.-Background:...

     – Navy political group
  • May 15 Incident
    May 15 Incident
    The ' was an attempted coup d'état in Japan, on May 15, 1932, launched by radical elements of the Imperial Japanese Navy, aided by cadets in the Imperial Japanese Army and civilian remnants of the League of Blood Incident. Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi was assassinated by 11 young naval officers...

     – coup d'état with Navy support
  • Imperial Way Faction
    Imperial Way Faction
    The was a political faction in the Imperial Japanese Army, active in the 1920s and 1930s and largely supported by junior officers aiming to establish a military government, that promoted totalitarian, militarist, and expansionist ideals...

  • Japanese nationalism
    Japanese nationalism
    encompasses a broad range of ideas and sentiments harbored by the Japanese people over the last two centuries regarding their native country, its cultural nature, political form and historical destiny...

  • Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors
    Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors
    The was issued by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 4 January 1882.It was the most important document in the development of the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy.-Details:...

  • Imperial Japanese Naval Academy
    Imperial Japanese Naval Academy
    The was a school established to train officers for the Imperial Japanese Navy. It originally located in Nagasaki, moved to Yokohama in 1866, and was relocated to Tsukiji, Tokyo in 1869. It moved to Etajima, Hiroshima in 1888...

  • Admiral of the Fleet (Japan)
    Admiral of the Fleet (Japan)
    ' was the highest rank in the prewar Imperial Japanese Navy. The term gensui was used for both the Navy and the Imperial Japanese Army, and was a largely honorific title awarded for extremely meritorious service to the Emperor. In the Meiji period, the title was awarded to 5 generals and 3 admirals...

  • Marshal (Japan)

External links


{{Commons category|Imperial Japanese Navy}}
{{JapanEmpireNavbox}}
{{IJN}}
{{IJNFoundation}}