Admiral Yamamoto, the most famous Japanese commander in World War II, responded to the warning about possible assassination attempts by saying: “The life and death of one person does not mean anything.”
This was years before the end of the war. Threats against the famous Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the US Navy attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, came from powerful ultranationalists in Tokyo who called for new invasions and expansion.
In the midst of the complete militarization of Japanese society at the time, Yamamoto was one of the very few Japanese military leaders who publicly expressed his disapproval of his country’s foreign policy, opposing the 1931 invasion of Manchuria and the subsequent bloody war with China.
Moreover, Admiral Yamamoto was against signing the Tripartite Pact with Italy and Germany in 1940, fearing that an alliance with Nazi Germany might lead to war with the United States.
He knew that the American economy at that time was far superior to the Japanese economy, and he stated that his country was not ready for a long and debilitating armed conflict with its scarce natural resources, while the United States could fight for a long time, relying on unlimited possibilities. .
The Japanese admiral knew the United States well because, after graduating from the Naval Academy, he lived in the United States and studied economics at Harvard University, and later returned there and served as naval attaché at his country’s embassy from 1925 to 1927. . .
The admiral’s fears began to materialize from the early months of 1941, when he was assigned to plan a major lightning attack against the United States, and Yamamoto had nothing but blind obedience, in keeping with Japanese imperial military tradition.
Yamamoto was confident at the time that the Japanese fleet could attack within six months, but he would inevitably lose the war if it went on longer.
The Admiral devised a plan to attack Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, which brought Japan into a devastating war with the United States.
On the morning of December 7, 414 combat aircraft from six Japanese aircraft carriers flew to Hawaii. He suddenly attacked American airfields on the island of Oahu and warships anchored at Pearl Harbor at that time.
During the attack, the Japanese sank 4 American battleships and two destroyers, destroyed 188 aircraft, severely damaged four more battleships, and killed over 2,000 American soldiers. The US Pacific Fleet was temporarily neutralized, allowing Japan to quickly take over most of Southeast Asia.
Yamamoto later led invasions of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, as well as raiding Ceylon, which was then a British colony.
In the summer of 1942, the admiral attempted to capture the US military base on Midway Island. The success he hoped for did not materialize, as American intelligence decoded Japanese radio communications informing the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, about the impending attack.
The defeat was very heavy: the Japanese fleet lost 4 aircraft carriers with 248 aircraft and one cruiser, 2500 soldiers were killed.
By 1943, the Japanese fleet was severely depleted by incessant fighting, so Yamamoto decided to boost the morale of the Japanese military units stationed on the islands of Shortland and Bougainville in the South Pacific.
The Americans followed the Admiral to take revenge on Pearl Harbor, and on April 14, 1943, I learned the details of her flight from a decoded radio message.
The US Navy sent 18 Lockheed P-38G fighters to intercept and shoot down the plane carrying Admiral Yamamoto.
This air squadron had to travel 700 kilometers over the sea to reach the target, and therefore the interception operation was considered the longest in World War II for naval aviation.
The Americans spotted Yamamoto’s plane and its accompanying security squadron south of Empress Augusta Bay at Bougainville in the Northern Solomon Islands.
Yamamoto’s aircraft was shot down around 08:00 am on April 18, 1943, and he crash-landed in a forest near the village of Ako, south of Bougainville.
This attack was carried out by two American Lockheed B-38G fighters, led by Captain Thomas Lanfer and Lieutenant Rex Barber, while the second Japanese bomber was hit and crashed into the sea.
Later, Isoroku Yamamoto’s body was found in the woods on Bougainville Island and it was later revealed that the admiral had been mortally wounded twice in the back before the plane crashed.
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