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Tamon Yamaguchi

Tamon Yamaguchi

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was a Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan 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...

 in 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 an alumnus of Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....



Born in Koishikawa
is a locality within Bunkyo, Tokyo. It consists of five sub-areas, . It is located nearby with the same name are two well regarded gardens: the Koishikawa Botanical Garden in Hakusan, and the Koishikawa Korakuen Garden in Korakuen....

, ; 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...

, Yamaguchi graduated from the 40th class of the 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...

 in 1912, ranked second out of 144 cadets. As a midshipman
A midshipman is an officer cadet, or a commissioned officer of the lowest rank, in the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and many Commonwealth navies. Commonwealth countries which use the rank include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Kenya...

, he served on the 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...

  and 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...

 . After his commissioning as an ensign
Ensign (rank)
Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name....

, he was assigned to the cruiser and battleship .

Yamaguchi attended naval artillery
Naval artillery
Naval artillery, or naval riflery, is artillery mounted on a warship for use in naval warfare. Naval artillery has historically been used to engage either other ships, or targets on land; in the latter role it is currently termed naval gunfire fire support...

 and 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...

 school in 1915–1916, and was then assigned to the 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...


By 1918, Yamaguchi had been promoted to lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 and was assigned to a navigation unit with the naval squadron escorting Imperial German Navy 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...

s received by the Japanese government as part of repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 payments from Germany at the end of 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...

. He then traveled to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and attended Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 from 1921-1923. On his return to Japan the following year, he served on the battleship for six months, before graduating from the Naval Staff College
Naval War College (Japan)
The was the staff college of the Imperial Japanese Navy, responsible for training officers for command positions either on warships, or in staff roles....

 with honors in 1924. Yamaguchi was promoted to lieutenant commander
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

 in 1924.

A member 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:...

 in 1927, Yamaguchi was promoted commander the next year and later assigned to the Japanese delegation at the London Naval Conference
London Naval Conference
There were three major international naval conferences in London, the first in 1908-09, the second in 1930 and the third in 1935. The latter two, together with the Washington Naval Conference in 1921-22 and the Geneva Conferences , resulted in agreements between the major powers on navy vessel...

 in 1929-1930. On his return to Japan, he was assigned as executive officer
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

 on the cruiser .
Promoted to captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 in 1932, Yamaguchi was the naval attaché to Washington, DC from 1934-1937. On his return to Japan, he was assigned as captain to the cruiser (from 1936–1937), followed by the battleship (from 1937–1938).

Promoted to rear admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 on 15 November 1938, he was commander of the First Combined Air Group during the early stages 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...

. As Chief of Staff for the IJN 5th Fleet
IJN 5th Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, active during the early portions of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and again in World War II, primarily in the Battle of the Aleutian Islands.-China Expeditionary Fleet:...

 from the end of 1938 he directed the saturation bombing campaign in central China, until his appointment as commander of the 2nd Carrier Division
Second Carrier Division
was an aircraft carrier unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy's First Air Fleet. At the beginning of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, the Second Carrier Division consisted of the fleet carriers Sōryū and Hiryū...

, consisting of the 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 and in 1940.

Yamaguchi′s carrier force was part of the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, and subsequently participated in the Indian Ocean Raid
Indian Ocean raid
The Indian Ocean raid was a naval sortie by the Fast Carrier Strike Force of the Imperial Japanese Navy from 31 March-10 April 1942 against Allied shipping and bases in the Indian Ocean. It was an early engagement of the Pacific campaign of World War II...

. During 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...

, Yamaguchi sparred with his superior officer, Admiral Chūichi Nagumo
Chuichi Nagumo
was a Japanese admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and one time commander of the Kido Butai . He committed suicide during the Battle of Saipan.-Early life:...

, upon a reconnaissance plane discovering an American aircraft carrier near Midway. At the time, the Japanese carriers′ planes were armed with bombs. Nagumo wished to switch the armament to torpedoes. Yamaguchi demanded that no time be wasted and that the planes be launched to attack the American carrier with bombs. Nagumo rejected this; shortly afterward, American carrier aircraft destroyed all the Japanese carriers except Yamaguchi′s flagship Hiryū. Yamaguchi quickly ordered two successive attacks on Yorktown which crippled it. Shortly afterward, another carrier air strike against Hiryū resulted in hits by aircraft from . Yamaguchi was killed in action
Killed in action
Killed in action is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own forces at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to...

, choosing to go down with the sinking aircraft carrier. Legend has it that he and the captain of Hiryū went down with the stricken carrier while calmly admiring the moon. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of vice admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...



  • Midshipman - 17 July 1912
  • Ensign - 1 December 1913
  • Sublieutenant - 13 December 1915
  • Lieutenant - 1 December 1918
  • Lieutenant Commander - 1 December 1924
  • Commander - 10 December 1928
  • Captain - 1 December 1932
  • Rear Admiral - 15 November 1938
  • Vice Admiral - 5 June 1942 (Posthumous)


  • Fuchida, Mitsuo (with C.H. Kawakami and Roger Pineau), Midway - The Battle that Doomed Japan: The Japanese Navy's Story, Annapolis, 1955.
  • Peattie, Mark R., Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power 1909-1941, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2001, ISBN 1-55750-432-6

He appears in Drifters
Drifters (manga)
is a fantasy, alternate history Japanese manga written and illustrated by Kouta Hirano. The manga started serialization in Shōnen Gahosha's magazine, Young King Ours on April 30, 2009...

as he was first seen sending knights to attack the otre forices.

External links