Interrogation Nav 115, Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome
FUKUDOME, Shigeru, Vice Admiral, I.J.N.
The experience of Admiral FUKUDOME particularly fitted him as an authority on high level planning and operations during the entire period from pre-war planning through the loss of the PHILIPPINES. He was intelligent, talked freely, and appeared as being a markedly superior Japanese Officer. Although understood English he conversed through an interpreter.
The high regard in which the British held this officer is illustrated by the fact that he was fully entrusted with the repatriation of Japanese nationals in SINGAPORE Area, a duty to which the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces Southeast Asia requested the earliest return of this officer.
|Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet||January 1940-April 1941|
|Chief of 1st Section, (Plans and Operations) Naval General Staff||April 1941-May 1943|
|Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet||May 1943-March 1944|
|Commanding Officer, 2nd Air Fleet||July 1944-January 1945|
|CinC Tenth Area Fleet||January 1945-End of War|
INTERROGATION NAV NO. 115
USSBS NO. 503
The Naval War in the Pacific
TOKYO 9-12 December 1945
Interrogation of: Vice Admiral FUKUDOME, Shigeru, IJN; Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet from 1940 to April 1941; Chief First Section, Naval General Staff, TOKYO, April 1941 to May 1943; Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet from May 1943 to March 1944; Commander, Second Air Fleet, July 1944 to 15 January 1945; Commander, 10th Area Fleet, 15 January 1945 to present date.
Interrogator: Rear Admiral R.A. Ofstie, USN.
Allied Officers Present: Colonel R.H. Terrill, USAAF.
Admiral FUKUDOME offers high level comment on important plans and operations throughout the PACIFIC War. He discusses the employment of shore-based naval air forces throughout the PHILIPPINE Campaign and action in the SINGAPORE Area for the last seven months of the war, the planning and decision of the Combined Fleet under Admiral KOGA, and the planning of the Naval General Staff from the beginning of the war to the spring of 1943.
Q. What was the reason for your being ordered to command of the Second Air Fleet, and what were the movements of your headquarters?
A. The only reason I can think of for my appointment to that position, since I was not an air expert, was the fact I had just recovered from a sick spell when the new air force was organized, and it was a matter of convenience that I was assigned to that position. At the time I took it, the Second Air Fleet really had not reached the stage of a unit; it was more in the training stage. I received the appointment in TOKYO and took over command at KATORI, in CHIBA Prefecture, on 15 June. Toward the end of July, I received orders from Central Headquarters to move headquarters to KANOYA, in KYUSHU. The areas of operation assigned to me were KYUSHU and OKINAWA district. in the opinion of the Imperial General Staff at that time, the American offensive was expected to be at one of three possibilities; first, against the PHILIPPINES; second, against TAIWAN-KYUSHU Area; third against HONSHU; and as I already had headquarters in KYUSHU I was ordered to take charge of the TAIWAN-KYUSHU district. It was as a result of that order that my command became operational. At the time, the First Air Fleet was stationed in the PHILIPPINES Area and the Third Air Fleet, based at KISARAZU, was responsible for the KANTO District. Toward the end of August, it appeared that the weight of the American offensive was directed southward, namely the PHILIPPINES, and I was therefore ordered to change my headquarters to TAIWAN, which I did on 10 September. There was, however, no change in the area for which I was responsible--KYUSHU, OKINAWA, TAIWAN district--it was simply a change in headquarters. At the time that I took over the Second Air Fleet, the pilots were still inadequately trained, so that the period when I was in KANOYA was spent in further training. Four days after I had established my headquarters, on 14 September, I received the first attack from your Task Force.
Q. On arrival in FORMOSA on the 10th, what was the status of your aircraft?
A. My fleet had approximately 100 planes, but simultaneous with my advance into TAIWAN about 200 Army planes were placed under my command; so from that time on I had a total of about 300 planes. As already stated, you made your first air attack on 14 October, and I undertook a counter-attack with a part of my air force on the night of the 15th and 16th with some success. The greater part of my air force was used in day counter-attack, but I believe that they obtained very little result with that counter-attack. The 300 planes used in this counter-attack were those stationed in KYUSHU, and after attack flew down to TAIWAN. These were in addition to the other 300.
Q. What were those 300 counter-attack planes; were they Army, Navy or both?
A. All Navy planes which I had trained from the beginning.
Q. What was the organization in KYUSHU on your arrival; what flotillas did you have, and what types?
A. There were many changes in reorganization during the time I was there. I cannot recall the exact system, but there were three principal divisions: the fighter corps, reconnaissance corps, and attack planes. Each division was further divided into two groups ranging in strength from 30 to 40 planes each. In addition to those three divisions, there were the land service forces divided between TAIWAN, OKINAWA and KYUSHU. These latter might be called maintenance units.
Q. You took command of the Second Air Fleet plus the Army aircraft on your arrival. Were those all the Army planes in TAIWAN, and did you have direct command of these Army planes?
A. I had command of the Army planes through the Commandant of the Army Air Division which was already there, and the 200 Army planes I mentioned were all of the Army planes there.
Q. What advance intelligence did you have of the approach of the Carrier Task Force on 12-14 October?
A. As I had just established my headquarters in TAIWAN only a few days earlier, my intelligence had not been well organized yet, and I was, therefore, forced to rely on information from Central Headquarters. However, since your Task Force had attacked OKINAWA on about the 11th or 12th, I conjectured that the Task Force on its way southeast, might undertake an attack against TAIWAN.
Q. What reports did you have on the strike on OKINAWA, which was within your area of command as I understand it?
A. Just prior to your attack on OKINAWA, a very small number of scouts which I had in OKINAWA, as a result of daytime reconnaissance, brought the report that the Task Force was not a very large one. Its nucleus was probably two or three carriers, and not certain whether or not there was a battleship included. As a result of the first attack, all of those scouting planes were lost, so that no further reports of scouting were received.
Q. About how many Japanese planes were reported lost at OKINAWA?
A. Around ten, all scouting planes. The following attack on TAIWAN was made jointly by your Task Forces moving up from the PHILIPPINES; that was the report we got from our reconnaissance planes in TAIWAN.
Q. What losses did you sustain in the Task Forces attack on TAIWAN?
A. The Navy lost between 170 or 180 planes, which included about 120 fighters, 30 attack planes, and 10 reconnaissance planes. Of the Army planes, only about one-half of the total of 200 were really fit for actual fighting, and I believe that practically all of those were lost. Consequently, the total aircraft loss was somewhat less than 300. (Note: This apparently refers to the attack in October, as mentioned later).
Q. What results, by way of damage to the American Third Fleet, did you report to TOKYO?
A. As already stated, our daytime counter-attack proved practically of no value, we got very little results. The night attacks undertaken on two successive nights were considerably better. Of course, the reports made by commanders of the units actually participating in the raids are inclined to be exaggerated. As reported by them, however, three carriers and several other vessels were reported either sunk or damaged. These counter-attacks were made by medium type, land-based attack planes with torpedoes. The day attack was made from TAIWAN, but that did not prove effective; the two night attacks were made from KYUSHU bases. (Aside from Mr. Mizota, the Japanese interpreter: I might add at this time, as there had been no reports of successful engagements for some time, the newspaper played this up quite prominently).
Q. Was the report believed by the General Staff; did you send in a qualifying statement to TOKYO, or was it a positive statement?
A. As the two night attacks were made by the planes based in KYUSHU, the results were reported in by a Captain in command there. Of course, the only thing I could do was to get those reports together for transmittal to the Imperial General Staff. As a general practice, I believe that these reports from the operating units were not taken at their full value by the Imperial General Staff; just what attitude they took toward this particular report I do not know.
Q. After the action was over, what reinforcements did you then receive from the Homeland; Army, Navy, carrier planes, etc.?
A. In October it became more and more apparent that your counter-thrust would be directed further southward, namely the PHILIPPINES; and as the First Air Fleet assigned to the PHILIPPINES Area had lost the greater part of their planes it was decided that the Second Air Fleet should be sent into the PHILIPPINES Area to reinforce the First Air Fleet. With that end in view, the Second Air Fleet received by way of reinforcement perhaps a slightly larger number of planes than I had lost in the TAIWAN engagement. These reinforcements were planes which had bene gotten together from all parts of JAPAN and sent to TAIWAN.
Q. What was the actual date of movement of headquarters to the PHILIPPINES?
A. I, myself, went to MANILA on the 22nd, and the 450 planes of the Second Air Fleet reached CLARK Field the next day, on the 23rd.
Q. What would you say were the overall results of the Task Force strikes on the RYUKYUS and FORMOSA; what effect on the subsequent PHILIPPINES Operation?
A. In the TAIWAN engagement, a part of the planes of the First Air Fleet took part, together with my planes. While the results attained were probably not as great as reported at the time, I felt that considerable success had been attained and hence expected that some time would lapse before you would undertake the attack further south. However, your thrusts against the PHILIPPINES came much sooner than expected.
Q. We heard from Admiral TOYODA that he had reinforced you with Third Fleet aircraft. What aircraft were received from Admiral OZAWA's Force, and were they received in response to a request from you?
A. I think that, at that time, I received no carrier-based planes from Admiral OZAWA's Force. I wonder whether or not Admiral TOYODA did have in mind some 40 or 50 well trained pilots who participate din the night counter-attacks against your Task Force, on October 12 and 14 from KYUSHU, working under the Second Fleet. It is possible, also, that I might have received some reinforcement from the carrier fleet. However, as the reinforcements come from Central Headquarters, I don't know exact source from which planes actually came.
Q. In the PHILIPPINES on your arrival, 22 October, I understood you brought with you, arriving a day later, roughly 450 planes of the Second Air Fleet; is that correct?
A. Yes, attached to the Second Air Fleet. More accurately, the majority of the 450 flew down there on the 23rd, the balance coming later. It was the intention, however, that those planes flying to the PHILIPPINES on the 23rd should attack your Task Force on the way, but on account of bad weather conditions they didn't encounter your Task Forces.
Q. What was the strength of the First Air Fleet at this time?
A. The First Air Fleet had suffered heavy losses around DAVAO, and the balance of approximately 100 planes were concentrated around MANILA, the Commandant of the Fleet at the time being Vice Admiral ONISHI.
Q. What was the exact date of formation of the First Combined Base Air Force?
A. I believe that the time was 26 October. When I arrived in MANILA, I joined Vice Admiral ONISHI, and, from that time on, the Two Air Fleets operated jointly under Vice Admiral OKOCHI, who was CinC Southwest Area Fleet. The First Air Fleet was already under the Southwest Area Fleet, and when I joined Admiral ONISHI, the, we both came under Vice Admiral OKOCHI's Southwest Area Fleet. On the 23rd the majority of the 450 planes which flew from TAIWAN to LUZON undertook attack on your Task Force on the way, north of LUZON, but without success owing to bad weather, as I stated earlier. Then on 24, 25 and 26 October, three consecutive days, the First Air Fleet under Admiral ONISHI and the Second Air Fleet carried out attacks against your Task Forces north of LUZON, operating not as one unit but separately. I followed my own tactics while Admiral ONISHI used his own. Incidently, Admiral ONISHI's Force was very weak at the time.
Q. What results were reported to you from the air attacks against American Forces?
A. The Second Air Force reported very limited results; namely, some damage to two carriers, types unknown. As against that, the First Air Fleet, which was much weaker in strength than the Second Air Fleet, reported several vessels sunk or damaged. This difference in results between the two fleets is to be explained by the fact that while the Second Fleet, which was relatively well balanced, followed standard tactics, the First Fleet under Admiral ONISHI attempted the so called special attack tactics which probably accounts for the difference in results.
Q. Over that same period of time, through the 256th, approximately what losses did the two air fleet sustain?
A. I don't remember exact figures, but the loss was relatively slight in the case of the Second Fleet, owing principally to the fact that planes had difficulty in finding your units owing to bad weather. The First Air Fleet, while they used the special attack method, had only a small number of planes to begin with. Consequently, I believe that the total oss of the two fleets was somewhere between 20 and 30. On the 25th, our surface fleet came into action, and the planes which gave air support to the surface fleet suffered some loss.
Q. What was the approximate status of the Army air at that time; strength, losses, etc.?
A. Most of the well trained Army Air Force was concentrated in northern BACALOD, further south, and were directing their attack directly against LEYTE. Those further north were still in the stage of training. Altogether, the Army aircraft were slightly less in number than the Navy planes.
Q. From the time of the LEYTE Operation, what reinforcements did you request from TOKYO, and what did you get?
A. Myself, together with my colleagues on the spot, felt that victory at LEYTE was absolutely indispensable; and those in General Headquarters were of the same opinion. So there was agreement that every possible plane, as well as all possibly Army forces, should be sent to the PHILIPPINES. I believe that up to the middle of December, the total air strength of between 600 and 700 planes was maintained. After that, however, replacement could not be continued to keep up that level. The losses increased as time passed and, from the middle of December, replacement could not keep pace with our losses; and by early part of January, I had lost practically all of my planes, my air force had been practically wiped out. Replacements were not getting through owing to operations of your air force. Consequently I had made up my mind to concentrate thereafter no deployment as ground forces. However, I was transferred to SINGAPORE just at that time, the order being dated 8 January. The winding up of the business took so much time it was not until the 15th that I was able to go to SINGAPORE and relieve my predecessor on the 16th as CinC, Tenth Area Fleet.
Q. Did you leave from LUZON?
A. The latter part of my stay in the PHILIPPINES was at CLARK Field, but in going to SINGAPORE I went on a seaplane taking off from MANILA.
Q. During your whole period in the PHILIPPINES, what is your rough estimate of the total air losses you sustained?
A. I would guess roughly around 3,000 planes.
Q. Was that due to general attrition losses, material failures; or how can you break that figure down as to the principal cause of the loss of that number of planes?
A. I enumerate the various causes without dividing the number. Our planes were flying almost daily over LEYTE and surrounding waters usually under unfavorable weather conditions, and many planes were lost due to weather itself. New replacements were not highly trained, which accounts in part for the fact that many planes were lost on the way before they got to TAIWAN. There was also a steady increase in the frequency and number of your attacks, with the result that our losses on the ground increased greatly; and when our planes took off in a hurry to avoid being destroyed on the ground, they were immediately knocked down by your planes. General speaking, as replacements were relatively poor pilots, there was considerable loss resulting from poor handling. In other words, the greater part of the total loss was traceable to other than air combat.
Q. At the end of that period then, mid-January 1945, would you say that the air striking power was very low, both Army and Navy?
A. The situation just prior to 8 January, when I was ordered to SINGAPORE, was that the Navy had only 30 fighters, which I moved from CLARK Field to ICHAGI near APARRI. My intention at the time was that, with the remaining 30 lost, I would have to resort to ground operations, as mentioned previously. I believe that the situation with regard to the Army Air Force was probably even worse than in the case of the Navy.
Q. What happened, now, to the former First and Second Air Fleets, which formed the Combined Air Fleet, when you moved out?
A. Simultaneously with my transfer to SINGAPORE, the Second Air FLeet was dissolved, its personnel being incorporated into the First Air Fleet as it had no more planes. But I believe that the name "Combined Base Air Force" was used for some time after that, instead of the First Air Fleet. At that time, the remaining air fleet under Admiral ONISHI changed its base to TAIWAN from the PHILIPPINES.
Q. During your period of stay in the PHILIPPINES, how did you coordinate your operations with those of the Army air, through what agency?
A. The Army Air Forces had its headquarters, throughout, at MANILA, but its Chief of Staff was stationed at CLARK Field in order to coordinate with the Naval Air Forces. There was general agreement between the two services that they should work very close together, and if possible as a single unit. But in practice that was very difficult to attain for various reasons, one of which was the fact of difference in formation between the two air forces, difference in terminology used in orders, etc. Even when an order was given to take off and rendezvous at a certain point, they couldn't always do that; so that in actual practice about the best they were able to accomplish would be that the Army would take off at a certain hour, the Navy would take off at a certain hour; just agreement at different times of taking off.
Q. And agreements on targets, etc.?
A. Yes, designation of time and target was about the limit of actual cooperation.
Q. Referring now to the SHO-GO Operation Plan, did you have full knowledge of the plans for fleet employment at LEYTE?
A. I did not have information in detail regarding the use of the fleet. I knew only such as was contained in the orders which the air force received from the Combined Fleet. The same applied to Admiral ONISHI.
Q. What was the substance of the directive for the employment of the air forces in this operation?
A. It was only in the nature of a general order to the effect that, whether in the course of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd SHO-GO Operation, our air force should be employed to drive back any attempt at landing by the enemy. There was no detailed order regarding special points to be attacked.
Q. Did you have direct communications and direct access to the fleet forces moving up to LEYTE?
A. Yes, we had direct communication.
Q. What is satisfactory?
A. Yes, I was able to send any kind of communication. However, actually messages from myself to the fleet were usually reports of reconnaissance planes, and in the reverse direction from the fleet to the air force, it was usually asking for air support. It was, of course, my desire to give the utmost support to the Task Forces under Admiral OZAWA, KURITA, SHIMA and NISHIMURA, but I discovered as a result of this, my first experience with land-based air forces, that land-based air forces are lacking the same facility in operation that you have in a carrier force. The result was that I was not able to give to our surface forces one-tenth of the assistance I would like to have given.
Q. Did the fleet forces inform you, from time to time, of the actions they were engaged in, or their difficulties and movements, besides requesting cover?
A. Yes, constantly.
Q. With specific reference to Admiral KURITA's Force, do you recall what air protection was arranged for in the plans, and what was given to KURITA on the 24th, the day of KURITA's approach?
A. In using this unwieldy land-based air force to support a constantly moving fleet, about the best that could be done would be to send fighters to protect the surface units, and scouting planes to search for submarines. But to do that would mean a serious weakening of the attacking power of the air force. Therefore, although there were repeated requests for such support from KURITA, I turned a deaf ear to those requests, and decided that the best protection I could give to KURITA's Force would be to concentrate my entire air force in attacking your Task Force which was waiting outside beyond the channel. However, owing partly to bad weather conditions, the attack against your Task Force was not successful. I did send a few fighters to protect the surface units and to scout for submarines in compliance with KURITA's request.
Q. The reason then for the ineffectiveness of the air protection against air attack was the small numbers available for the job?
A. Yes; in part, lack of sufficient numbers and also in part to the bad weather mentioned before.
Q. Would you comment on the use of the Special Attack (Kamikaze) at LEYTE?
A. After the two air fleets were combined to form the Combined Base Air Force, I, being the senior officer took command with Admiral ONISHI as Chief of Staff. Throughout, the Kamikaze or Special Attack planes constituted the nucleus of my air force. The targets varied from time to time and were selected from a standpoint of obtaining greatest advantage to our forces. Principal targets were perhaps carriers, sometimes cruisers were selected, and again, especially when your destroyers came in large numbers against the forces that we had landed in LEYTE, they were designated as principal targets. The Kamikaze confined its operations to naval vessels (sea units). In the operations against land targets, we used principally medium type, land attack planes and ordinary attack lanes and bombers, but used horizontal-bombing and not dive-bombing against land targets. In addition, we used seaplanes for attacking torpedo boats.
Q. What was the reason, throughout this period, that loaded transports were not a primary target of the Special Attack Force?
A. I wish to correct myself on an earlier statement. Loaded transports were looked upon as at least of equal importance with carriers, perhaps even a little higher than carriers, as targets.
Q. In fact, however, no loaded transports were ever hit, and for that reason I assumed that such orders were never issued.
A. On one occasion loaded transports were made the principal targets, some 300 miles east-southeast of LEYTE; and on another occasion, in an area very close to LEYTE, our Kamikaze were sent out to attack what we supposed were loaded transports, but, by some error, the attack was made against small landing craft.
Q. With respect to the whole LEYTE Operation, you have already stated that it was virtually a finish fight. Can you say whether or not the Army, from the beginning, intended to make LEYTE an all-out operation, including all reinforcements they could put in there?
A. What the policy was at the top, I don't know, because that was in the hands of the CinC, Southwest Area Fleet. But I was under the impression that, at first, the Army was hesitant to throw in their full force with the idea of fighting a decisive battle, but after a few days elapsed, it appears as if headquarters and local authorities agreed that that was what they should do. But when decision was made, actually they couldn't get reinforcements down there to carry on the fighting.
Q. Subsequent to the retirement of Admiral KURITA's Force through SULU SEA, and the completion of the Naval Operation, what, if any, new directive was received from CinC, Combined Fleet?
A. So far as I can recall, there was no change in the operation ordered from the Combined Fleet. I believe that the order was to continue using the Naval Air Force to its utmost with a view to cutting off subsequent landing operations.
Q. Again at this time, after the naval action had been fought, roughly, how many planes did you have and, roughly, how many planes of the Army were operational in the PHILIPPINES?
A. At the period that you mention, namely, immediately after our Task Forces had withdrawn, there had not been any serious depletion in air force because it was still the early part of the LEYTE Operation, and the continuing bad weather made the number of air combats relatively few.
Q. Did you have definite plans for air support of the reinforcing convoys going into ORMOC, and was it in conjunction with the Army?
A. I am not at all certain on this, but I do not believe that any definite air support was planned for that reinforcement. However, I think that the job was assigned to the Army Air Force based near MENADO.
Q. Admiral, what are your opinions as to the primary reasons for failure to defend successfully against the invasion of LEYTE?
A. Very briefly stated, I would say that the principal reason was inadequacy of our force plus the inability to reinforce and to send supplies. In other words, difference between the strength of your force and ours. In slightly greater detail, the Army, the 16th Division, was insufficiently strong to prevent the first landing. After that it was pushed back further.
Q. During the period between the LEYTE landing on 20 October and the MINDORO landing on 15 December, what was the usual employment of your force?
A. Throughout that period, our Naval Air Force was employed in operations centered about LEYTE, principally against your transports, cruisers, destroyers and Task Force, whenever it made its appearance, and occasionally against land targets in which we had the support of the Army Air Force.
Q. Were there any markedly heavy losses during that period, 15 October to 15 December; and if so, from what cause?
A. Our largest, heaviest losses were at the bases while our planes were on the ground, the losses being caused by attacks from your Task Forces, and after you constructed airfields on LEYTE also from the Leyte air bases. But I believe that we suffered heaviest from your carrier-based planes. I do not recall any particular instance where there was an outstandingly heavy loss.
Q. Did you receive replacements during this period, or about how much had your strength decreased by the time of the landing on MINDORO in December?
A. Up to the commencement of the MINDORO landing we probably lost over 2,000 planes; but replacement was kept up more or less steadily, so that the original strength of between six and seven hundred planes was maintained. It never reached the number of 1,000, but the original number was maintained more or less throughout. But that marked the peak of the fighting in that area, and after that, replacement stopped and there was a very sudden fall in our strength.
Q. During the MINDORO Operation, the Task Force maintained what we call a "blanket" over the fields on LUZON. Do you recall any marked activity of that nature during the MINDORO Operation?
A. Yet, I felt the effect of that "blanket" operation in that attacks increased in frequency, and also prevented replacements getting through.
Q. You said that there was a sharp drop in strength after mid-December. What was the primary reason for that drop in strength?
A. The principal reason was inability to keep up, continue replacement, which in turn was traceable to the fact that replacement would be attacked on the way.
Q. From FORMOSA, etc.?
A. Principally south of FORMOSA, after taking off from FORMOSA, as your planes were active day and night. The other reason for inability to keep up replacement was that the source was fast drying up, both as to material and personnel. This is merely a conjecture, but it is possible that one reason for the drop in replacement was the change in policy at Headquarters toward the LEYTE Operation. At first they decided to put everything they had into it, but as the prospect for final success did not appear too bright, they might have changed their minds and withheld part of the replacement originally intended for that area. That was the impression I got regarding the situation in LEYTE.
Q. When did you get the first intelligence of the movement of the American Forces toward the LINGAYEN landing which was made on 9 January?
A. We had no advance information of your movement against LINGAYEN until the fleet actually arrived there, which I believe was on 5 January, when your fleet began to move north from MINDORO. Our planes kept constant watch, and our belief was that landing would be attempted around MANILA Bay or points south; so we were taken by surprise when they appeared in LINGAYEN and started landing there.
Q. Was there any special employment of air against that invasion force, other than Special Attack tactics?
A. We put all the air force we had into that attack, not only the Special Attack ones, but all the others as well and that was virtually the end of our air strength. In other words, we lost practically everything.
Q. Do you believe that there would have been any difference in the ultimate outcome in the war if the American Forces had stayed at LEYTE and ot gone to MINDORO and then to LINGAYEN?
A. I do not believe that there would have been any difference in the ultimate situation, but that the end might have been delayed somewhat. The reason for so thinking is that, had your forces stopped at LEYTE instead of going on to MINDORO and the subsequent operation, the reinforcement of our forces at LEYTE as originally planned would have been gradually increased. Although in the end you would strengthen your forces in that area to such an extent that we would be overwhelmed, for a period, anyway, we would have been able to continue. To that extent I think it would have been delayed.
Q. In respect to the American movement, suppose the American Forces had stopped at MINDORO and established airfields there, would there have been any difference?
A. Yes, to about the same extent as in the case of LEYTE. The answer is very much the same. it would have delayed the end of the PHILIPPINE Operation, because the fact that you made your last advance into LINGAYEN, which was wholly unexpected on our side, speeded up your recovery of the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. It would simply have been a difference in time in the general situation. I think that it would have made no difference whether you stopped or continued as you did. It would have slowed up our subsequent operations; we would have continued resistance for a much longer period.
Q. Would it have affected the operation at IWO JIMA/ WOuld that operation have gone off on time, without any greater resistance? Was it necessary to the conclusion of the war that we occupy the whole of the PHILIPPINES?
A. I think we go back to the original answer. There would have been no difference in the ultimate result, because if you held the principal bases, the supply would be cut off, the source of supply as well as replacement. We would have "dried up" in time, but by continuing to advance you merely speeded up the end.
Q. You had no directive from TOKYO Headquarters indicating that they had decreased the flow of replacement aircraft, is that correct?
A. Yes, that is correct.
Q. Then if they supplied you with all the aircraft they could, you and the Army, would you say the PHILIPPINE Campaign practically marked the end of Japanese air strength of both the Army and Navy?
A. As I have already suggested, I had the feeling toward the end that I was not receiving all the replacement that might have been sent down there, due probably to the fact that Central Headquarters had their mind on the next operation; just exactly where, I do not know. It might have been OKINAWA, KYUSHU or even around the KANTO District, so that your would not be accurate to say that the end of my stay marked the end of the Japanese Air Force. Had it been decided to send everything in the way of reinforcement that was available from JAPAN at the time, it would probably be about 2,000 Navy planes and another 2,000 of the Army, but that would have meant discontinuance of training altogether.
Q. Were there any particular features of the whole PHILIPPINE Campaign that worked either for or against the success or efficient employment of the Japanese Naval Air Force?
A. The principal cause of the serious handicap that the Navy Air Force constantly faced was the fact that, owing to the low training level of our air personnel, there were various accidents before the planes ever got to the PHILIPPINES, accidents on the way. That difficulty was increased by the fact that we were always facing bad weather, and since your fighters were facing the same weather condition, it boils down to difference in training level. We were all agreed on that point, and I cannot remember any particular difficulty having arisen from location of airfields or failure of parts to come through. I might mention one additional feature, namely, that because of the very rapid depletion of our fighting force, the replacements had to be put into combat as soon as they arrived. WIn other words, we had no opportunity to receive training under local geographical and weather conditions.
Q. Was the cooperation with the Army air and ground forces generally satisfactory over the whole period of the PHILIPPINE Campaign, or were there any particularly important points of friction or personalities that had any appreciable influence on the efficiency of the overall air operation?
A. No, I do not think that there was any particular friction between the Army and Navy Air Forces. The two services were supposed to have the same number of planes in the PHILIPPINES; but as a matter of fact, the Navy constantly had more than the Army and were operating more actively than the Army planes, with the result that the Army Air Force took the attitude of thanking the Navy for taking more than its share of the burden. That was one of the reasons for the absence of friction. The other was that the PHILIPPINES Operation ended before the land forces had a chance to get into action. If land operation took place in any extensive scale, there might have been friction, but the operation ended before there was such a chance.
Q. If the operation were to be done over again, wha different method of operation would you have adopted?
A. If you left the matter to me, I would have made a serious stand against your landing at LUZON. I might have employed a few planes earlier, but I would have saved the mass of my forces to counter-attack your landing on LUZON Island proper, for a last counter-attack. Because we divided up our forces to meet each landing, as you so heavily outnumbered us, we were bound to lose heavily.
Q. In the discussions of the battles for LEYTE Gulf with Admiral OZAWA and Admiral KURITA, it appeared that neither of them had good information as to the location of the principal American Forces. They stated that they were working in the dark as to where the American Task Forces were, and of what strength. Admiral KURITA, specifically, on coming through SAN BERNARDINO Strait, did not know what forces he was going to meet outside. He then had an engagement with a force, the composition of which he did not know. Why was there not a better search made to let these officers know where the American Task Forces were and what they were doing?
A. That is to be explained, first, by the fact that on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th, those three days, the weather conditions were particularly bad, and second, it so happened that the Navy's scouting force was at its lowest level at that time. We did not have suitable scouting planes and principally had to rely on the Army. Also, because of the inadequate number, I was unable to send out these planes except once a day or, at most, twice a day for reconnaissance. Even then they returned without covering the whole area, but only small sections. What Admiral KURITA wanted was a complete report on enemy movements, but the best I was able to do was to give the approximate position of the enemy Task Force once a day or twice a day. As far as Admiral OZAWA's force was concerned, he was way up north beyond the area under my command, and, consequently, I was not able to give him any information at all.
Q. Admiral KURITA stated that one reason for his turning north rather than entering LEYTE Gulf was because of his lack of knowledge of where the American Task Forces were. What is your view of Admiral KURITA's decision to turn north instead of entering LEYTE Gulf as was the original instruction?
A. My contention has always been that a fleet or task force, to operate effectively, must have its own carrier-based air force, because land-based air force, such as we had, insufficient in number and especially lacking in sufficient training, could not give efficient assistance, especially in the way of reconnaissance. In that particular case, Admiral KURITA started out with his fleet with the intention of making a thrust into LEYTE Gulf, but turned back, as you say, because of his not knowing what was waiting for him in the GUlf, nor what was the strength or position of the enemy in his vicinity. That might have been the correct thing to do under the circumstances, but if I had been in Admiral KURITA's place, I do not say this by way of criticism of Admiral KURITA, but had I been in his place, since he started out with the purpose of engaging the enemy whatever it might be, I would have continued and made a thrust into the Gulf and undertaken the engagement.
Q. Will you briefly recount your movement out from MANILA to SINGAPORE, where you got your aircraft, and your route?
A. During the day time of the 8th, I had made up my mind to take the remaining 30 planes and move to ICHAGI, near APARRI; but I received my orders transferring me, so on the night of the 8th, I moved to CAVITE. Usually this trip takes about two hours, but because of various incidents, it took me twelve hours from CLARK to CAVITE. DUring the night of the 9th, a flying boat was supposed to be sent to CAVITE from FORMOSA, but because of bad weather it arrived on the morning of the 11th. At about 0300 I departed CAVITE, arriving at CAMRANH Bay, in French INDO-CHINA at 0900. This was in a float reconnaissance plane single-engine, two-place. During the afternoon of the same day, I moved to SAIGON. I was supposed to have moved on from SAIGON to SINGAPORE, but there was a U.S. Task Force attack on the 12th so my reconnaissance plane could not get through, and actually didn't get away until the 15th. I relieved my predecessor from his post--CinC Tenth Area Fleet--on the 16th.
Q. What damages did you observe or learn of from the Task Force attack on SAIGON?
A. As I recall it, the attack came in four waves. The main targets seemed to be boats along the rivers, fuel tanks and airfields. On the airfields about 20 Army fighters, which had just come back from BURMA for training purposes, were either damaged or destroyed, and about 20 to 30 Navy planes were either damaged or destroyed by machine gun fire. Several ships were damaged and sunk and about two or three oil tanks burned. But since I was just a traveller, I had no official knowledge of the extent of damages.
Q. At SINGAPORE, was there any Army command corresponding to your command?
A. The Seventh Area Army was in SINGAPORE.
Q. What naval and air forces did you have under your command there?
A. Although I said I assumed the position as CinC Tenth Area Fleet, actually I was CinC Thirteenth Air Fleet, also of the First Southern Expeditionary Fleet. Under the Tenth Area Fleet, I had four heavy cruisers: TAKAO, MYOKO, ASHIGARA and HAGURO--the TAKAO was badly damaged and the MYOKO was non-operational--and a number of smaller vessels, mine sweeps and so on. The Thirteenth Air Fleet was mainly a training unit, the reason being because of the fuel situation at home; here fuel could be obtained and SINGAPORE Area was considered behind the lines. The only actual combat strength we had was about 50 fighters for operations. We had three training units, about 400 planes, mostly trainers. The First Expeditionary Fleet had some small vessels.
Q. What was the area of your responsibility, roughly?
A. BORNEO, western half of NEW GUINEA, French INDO-CHINA, NICOBAR and ANDAMAN; in short, all the southern occupied areas.
Q. What was your relationship to fleet units which would come into your area?
A. Prior to the PHILIPPINE Operation, the KURITA Fleet occasionally came to SINGAPORE Area for training; but since I came to SINGAPORE, not a single fleet vessel came, except submarines of the Sixth Fleet. I had practically no opportunity to have any connection with fleet units.
Q. You had the responsibility for handling convoys and shipping generally in the area? Was it your direct responsibility, or how was it handled?
A. Escort duties came under the CinC Seventh Fleet who was in JAPAN. Regardless of where convoys go, the CinC Seventh Fleet is mainly responsible for planning such convoys. But since the CinC Tenth Fleet is responsible for the safe conduct of anything that may come into his territory, he acts in actual cooperation with the agent for the Seventh Fleet who is in SINGAPORE.
Q. What effect, if any, did the January Task Force attack that we just spoke of have on convoys or the shipping in the southern areas?
A. These Task Force raids had much effect. The recovery by the UNITED STATES of the PHILIPPINES practically cut the entire transportation route from the south; and added to this were the Task Force raids in French INDO-CHINA. So from the middle of January to the middle of February, outside of a few planes which made communication between the Homeland and the souther areas, no ships whatsoever got thoughtout. The situation could not be allowed to continue. Even if we lost 4 or 5 tankers, we thought it was worthwhile if we got one through. From the middle of February to the latter part of March, we carried out ship transportation operations. At that time, there were a dozen or more tankers in the southern areas. Only a third of these were successful, and two-thirds were sunk en route. As I recall, 5 or 6 arrived with 40,000 tons of gasoline, and this was the gasoline used until the end of the war. These ship movements were known as the "NAN" Operations. There was no more traffic after that.
Q. What was the principal cause of the loss of those tankers, and what stopped it entirely?
A. They were sunk by submarines and by aircraft. I believe that more were sunk by aircraft.
Q. Were those, generally, single plane attacks of the 4-motor land planes?
A. I recall on one occasion they were sunk by a formation of 5 or 6 planes which we thought came from MINDORO. In all other cases they were single planes, like Liberators.
Q. What was the system of reporting the losses of ships in your area? To what agency did you report and when?
A. The commander of the convoy directly reported to the CinC Seventh Fleet in every instance. If such an instance occurred in the Tenth area, then the CinC Tenth Fleet was notified simultaneously. I recall once where all five escorts were sunk and there was nobody around to make the report.
Q. Were there other important effects from the Task Force attack in January?
A. In addition to the effect on shipping, the principal effect of the Task Force air raids in January was the moral or spiritual effect. That is not to say that our forces, as a result of those raids, thought that all was over. The moral effect I refer to affected the southwestern areas where I was in charge--MALAYA, SUMATRA and BORNEO which served principally as a sort of logistic base. After those raids became intensive, they realized that the front line was moving up, as evidenced when I arrived in SINGAPORE. After nearly three years of fighting going on, very little defensive preparations had been made. Once this new feeling was established, they got busy on defensive works.
Q. What naval operations did you conduct in your area, and for what purposes?
A. The general situation changed greatly as a result of the loss of the PHILIPPINES. The opinion was gaining strength that in the end the Navy would have to join in with the ground operation. In February, in respect of land operations, I was brought under General TERAUCHI. As for sea operations, the principal work of SINGAPORE Headquarters was in supplying the front areas, doing very much the same work as naval stations of JAPAN proper. There was shortage of rice, shortage of oil close to enemy positions. The result was that I was using naval vessels as transports. It was while engaged in such operations that we lost the ASHIGARA and HAGURO, in conveying supplies to the Army divisions down south.
Q. What were the details of the loss of the HAGURO and ASHIGARA?
A. The HAGURO was lost about 30 miles southwest of PENANG on 16 May. She was on her way to the ANDAMAN and NICOBAR Islands, going with the destroyer KAMIKAZE, both loaded with food supplies. Both of those islands were running badly short of food, and two earlier attempts had been made to get food through by using small ships; but in both cases they were lost as a result of attacks by planes, probably British. It was, therefore, decided that use of small slow speed ships would be of no use, and, therefore, the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE were assigned to this duty. They had just gotten through MOLUCCA Strait on the night of 16 May when they got information that there was a British Task Force ahead; so they turned back. On the way back they encountered a flotilla of five British destroyers which came through the narrow passage there, near the north tip of SUMATRA, and a naval engagement took place at this point. It was reported by KAMIKAZE that three shots from the HAGURO sank one of the British destroyers, but I, myself, later met the commander of that destroyer and learned that while damaged, it was not sunk. The KAMIKAZE, itself, received one shot but managed to get into PENANG. This naval engagement was fought by our side under a very serious handicap as both ships were loaded to the deck to such an extent that only half of the guns could be used against the British destroyers, the intention from the beginning having been to avoid encounter with any enemy ships.
Q. What happened to the HAGURO, sunk buy gun-fire?
A. The HAGURO was sunk by a torpedo from the destroyers. The next morning, namely the 17th, the KAMIKAZE went out to the south where the HAGURO was sunk and rescued 150 to 160 survivors; and according to the report of the survivors, the Commander of the 5th Cruiser Division, Vice Admiral HASHIMOTO, and the captain of the ship were on the bridge as the HAGURO went down, so they were not killed as a result of actual firing. The ASHIGARA was sunk by a torpedo from a submarine while transporting Army personnel as a result of the change in the general situation. As a result of the loss of the PHILIPPINES, it had been decided to move our forces from the CELEBES and the islands near-by further westward, particularly to around SINGAPORE and French INDO-CHINA. The ASHIGARA at that time was carrying about 1,200 Army personnel from BATAVIA to SINGAPORE, and received the torpedo hit while passing through the BANKA Strait in June. The British say, however, she sank possibly from a magnetic mine dropped by air.
Q. Were there any other naval losses besides these?
A. The only other one, not a very serious one, was the damage to the cruiser TAKAO, as a result of a sudden explosion which took place about 2100 on 31 July. We were at a loss at first to account for the cause of the explosion, and divers were sent down to investigate, and discovered attached to the hull two magnetic mines, each containing about 30 kilograms of powder, in addition to one large ship-shaped mine of perhaps one ton. How these mines became attached, they were a complete loss to explain. It was only recently that this riddle was solved when an officer of a British submarine came to me with the story that he had gone there on his submarine and done that work probably on that day or the previous day. There were no other naval losses of importance.
Q. What activities occurred in your area in connection with German submarines?
A. At present there are two German submarines at SINGAPORE and one each in BATAVIA and SOERABAJA, which we took over from the Germans and turned over to the British. The Germans had established a liaison group for their submarines at PENANG, SINGAPORE and BATAVIA. In addition, they had two seaplanes in BATAVIA. I had received orders from Headquarters to cooperate with German submarines in the matter of supplies and maintenance, but had nothing to do with the operation. There was cooperation between TOKYO and BERLIN with regard to the operations of German and Japanese submarines in the INDIAN OCEAN. Liaison was effected through these liaison groups in order to avoid collision between the two groups of submarines while operating in the INDIAN OCEAN. The operation of our submarines was under the control of the Sixth Fleet, so I had absolutely no connection with the operation of the German submarines. My service was purely logistic.
Q. Why were the German submarines based at BATAVIA, and what did they do with their seaplanes over there?
A. Formerly, the Germans had their base at PENANG, but as the number of mines in MOLUCCA Strait increased, and the patrol and defense against submarines in the northern section was strengthened by the British, it was felt safer for the German submarines to use SUNDA because of the change of route. The two seaplanes were to protect their submarines as they went through SUNDA Strait. Both of these planes were supplied by the Japanese Navy, but the personnel was German.
Q. Did you have any friction or any difficulties in working with the German liaison group?
A. None at all. The liaison was placed in the hands of our Naval Attache in SINGAPORE, and the question of liaison of German submarines was never brought to the commanding officer.
Q. Did your forces, at any time, that you were there, make a positive identified sinking of any U.S. submarine?
A. None at all.
Q. How serious were the effects of minefields laid by the U.S. and British, which you encountered in your area, and where were those most serious?
A. The effect of the mines was very serious, particularly the damage suffered by ships entering and leaving SINGAPORE. Among the larger ships damaged during the time that I was there were the ISE, HYUGA and the hospital ship HIKAWA MARU. At least 10 and perhaps as many as 15 or 16 ships and two or three small ships were sunk. Other areas heavily mined were around BANKA Strait and the entrance to BATAVIA. The larger of these mines were probably magnetic mines laid by planes. There might have been some which were laid by submarines also.
Q. Somewhat earlier, you commented on the lack of defense work which you noticed immediately on arrival in the southern area. Did you inspect your whole area, did you find it to be common in the southern areas that were not directly in contact with the enemy?
A. Yes, I covered my territory very shortly after taking over, and found the situation much the same in all the parts. The possible explanation of that situation is probably the fact that when the southern area reached the extreme stage, there was a feeling that this marked the end of the offensive operation. Especially in Army circles, there was an opinion, thereafter, that the work of the Army would be military administration, so that they should withdraw all except 200,000 men to other regions. When I went to SINGAPORE and saw what the situation was, I ordered that an effort should be made at once to strengthen the defense there, but I did not make much headway. By the end of the war, the situation was so bad that when the British came, they were surprised at the lack of preparation there.
Q. What was your position at the end of the war, and what did you then do?
A. I was CinC Tenth Area Fleet until the termination of the war. THen I became prisoner of war under the control of the British, and have since been in charge of the operation of Japanese ships engaged in repatriation of Japanese nationals under CinC MALAY British Naval Force.
Q. After receipt of the imperial Rescript concluding the war, did you have any difficulty keeping naval personnel in check or getting them to accept the Rescript?
A. No. Generally speaking, I have been able to maintain control of my center from the very moment of the termination of the war, the only exception being that about 300 naval personnel, mostly sailors and a sprinkling of warrant officers, fled immediately after they heard of the outcome. However,most of them have come back. Some, apparently trying to turn pirate, were themselves killed by native pirates. Some were killed by bandits, but most of the survivors have returned to SINGAPORE.
Q. What was the situation in respect of the Army on that same question in that area?
A. Very much the same as in the case of the Navy. The Army too had some who fled, some deserters.
Q. Do you have any comment ot make on your relationship with the Army in the SINGAPORE Area?
A. Since the war came to an end before there was any serious heavy fighting in SINGAPORE Area, there was no occasion for friction between the Army and Navy, especially as I had been instructed to work under the command of the CinC Southern Area. In so far as land operations were concerned, I tried to give positive cooperation to all activities on land. For that reason there was no difficulty with the Army, and no occasion in which I was criticized by the CinC Southern Army.
Q. Do you have any comment on the Army command in the south?
A. I have no criticism to make of the Army in the southern area aside from the reference I made to the sentiment that prevailed in the upper levels of the Army in the early stage of the southern operation, that that marked the completion of the campaign and they were ready to neglect all defensive work. The situation actually was that I made reference to the decision of the Army to withdraw all but 200,000 of the Army force in the south; and it was actually while this withdrawal was being made that counter-offensive at GUADALCANAL was made, so that the troops were shifted and used at GUADALCANAL against your counter-offensive there.
(During the following portion of the interrogation Allied Officers present included Col. R.H. Terrill, USAAF; Col. J.F. Rodenhauser, USAAF.)
Q. Will you describe briefly for us the air attacks of importance that were made in the SINGAPORE Area while you were there?
A. From the time that I arrived there on 15th January until the end of the war there were six raids, the number of planes, all B-29's, varying from 30 to about 120. In the case of the heaviest raids, the planes came in small formations in sort of waves, so it is possible that the same planes might have been counted two or more times. The last of these six raids took place early in March. The six raids took place while the Army Air Force was base dn CALCUTTA. Aside from those heavy raids, there were reconnaissance flights over the area, and also mine laying from planes coming in small numbers. The principal targets were the naval and merchant shipping ports, shipyards and the waterfront. In general, in the naval port the dock was seriously damaged, while in the merchant shipping port, wharves and warehouses were practically wiped out. The missiles dropped were principally bombs, but in two or three of the raids incendiary bombs were used to a considerable number, especially against the warehouses. Human casualties were very low. The most serious loss to the Navy was the damage to the dock, while the Army felt most the destruction of the wharves and warehouses. The net result of these six raids did not very seriously affect our total fighting strength there, but it might have been quite serious had the raids been continued for ten or more times thereafter.
Q. Were the mine laying raids easily identified and could you then take immediate measures to sweep?
A. Altogether, mine laying raids were carried out perhaps a dozen or more times during the period of my stay there, and always on moonlit nights, taking advantage of the moon. On the first two or three occasions we were caught more or less unawares. After that we increased our observation and we could always detect their coming by means of radar; so we were able to tell fairly accurately where the mines were laid, but could not always take the necessary counter-measures because of insufficient mine-sweeping facilities. We could go to the areas in which we thought the mines had been laid, and sweep the region as best we could; after which we would try to put a ship through thinking it was all clear, but on several occasions the ship hit remaining mines. As stated yesterday the principal places where mines were laid were the east and west entrances to the SINGAPORE Harbor,the JOHORE Strait, and the channel leading toward BATAVIA.
Q. What was the approximate number of vessels sunk and seriously damaged by aerial mining in areas under your control?
A. I think this was mentioned in passing yesterday. The total damage from mines in the SINGAPORE Area was 14 o 15 ships, of which three or four small ones sank. The remaining ones were slightly damaged, and were able to get back into operation with little repair. There was also a few mine laying raids near PENANG and SOERABAJA. The total losses at those two points were probably 5 or 6, of which one or two sank. Hence, the total loss from mines laid by planes in the area for which I was responsible was around 20; and while that is not a very large number, we felt the loss quite heavily because the total number of ships that we had was small. Twenty out of a relatively small number was quite a big proportion.
Q. Did you attempt interception with your fighters of any of the air raids; if so, with what results?
A. As I stated yesterday, the naval air force in SINGAPORE was primarily a training unit with the exception of 50 or 60 planes that were assigned to protection of the oil areas in BALIKPAPAN and TARAKAN. Also, there were training units scattered through JAVA, PENANG and French INDO-CHINA; but because they were primarily training planes, they were not of much practical value in actual operations. Therefore, the basic policy was to reserve the Navy's planes for use to support sea operations, such as in the case of the appearance of Task Forces, etc. Consequently, in the numerous raids, including mine laying raids against SINGAPORE, the interception was left to Army planes belonging to the Third Air Army with headquarters in SINGAPORE, under the command of Lieutenant General KINOSHITA. This Army had approximately 1000 planes which were deployed in supporting land operations as far apart as BURMA and NEW GUINEA; and in the raids of the B-29's against SINGAPORE, these Army planes were used for interception. In addition, the Army had quite a number of planes for the protection of PALEMBANG. During my stay there, most of the good Navy planes were ordered back to JAPAN, only those of little actual value being left in SINGAPORE, which situation was natural enough since the primary purpose of the Naval Air Force there was training. As soon as the pilots reached a certain stage they were taken back to JAPAN, but I felt that the recall to JAPAN was going a little faster than I considered practical or wise.
Q. Do you recall what success the Army had in interceptions?
A. During the time that I was there, the only result that I heard of was when the Army planes intercepted a British Task Force which approached the PALEMBANG Area two or three times, either late in January or early February. Just what the figures were I do not know either. I also heard that a few Army planes had been sent out against the American Task Force off French INDO-CHINA, but I have no knowledge of the results. The general policy, as already stated, was that the Navy should use its planes to support sea operations. As well trained pilots and practically all serviceable planes were consistently being sent back to JAPAN, I was forced to pick up wrecks and scraps and repair them, and use them for training purposes. I was able to recover 30 or 40 planes in that way and save them for the last stand there, when your landing should be undertaken. The policy was much the same with the Army. In other words, they too were saving up their planes for the last stand. Consequently, the Army planes which went up to intercept B-29's were in relatively small numbers. That may explain in part the small results obtained in the air combats in which the Army planes engaged. Toward the end the Army planes too were being brought back to JAPAN in large numbers, so that the number of those remaining in SINGAPORE from the Army as well as the Navy had gotten very small. One other raid which I should have mentioned took place near the end of July, raiders composed of 1 B-24 and 8 P-38's, probably American craft, coming from BORNEO region principally for reconnaissance purposes. Two or three of our Army planes took to the air and engaged in air combat. While I received no formal report from the Army, I heard that we lost two planes and that the enemy suffered no loss.
Combined Fleet 1943-44
Q. Admiral, was there any particular reason why you were assigned as Chief of Staff Combined Fleet on Admiral KOGA's Staff; for example, the peculiarities of the strategic situation at that time with which you were especially familiar?
A. My predecessor was Vice Admiral UGAKI who was injured over BOUGAINVILLE at the time that Admiral YAMAMOTO was shot down. That was 18 APRIL 1943. They were in separate planes but both were shot down. As the injury was serious and as Adm. UGAKI was confined to bed, it was necessary for the Chief of Staff as well as Commander in Chief to have a successor. So when Admiral KOGA was appointed Commander in Chief and left TOKYO for TRUK, he left work with the Chief of the Navy General Staff, Admiral NAGANO, that if upon arrival at TRUK he should find Admiral UGAKI in too serious condition to continue as Chief of Staff, I should be sent down to replace him. Admiral KOGA discovered at TRUK that Admiral UGAKI's injuries were very serious, and I was ordered to proceed there at once.
Q. Will you give us briefly the movements of the Commander in Chief during the ensuing year, during the time you were Chief of Staff?
A. Admiral KOGA arrived at TRUK and took over the post 23 April; his flagship was the MUSASHI. On 23 May he came on the flagship to TOKYO for discussions with headquarters, proceeding from there to KURE and the INLAND SEA in June for repairs and some training. He returned to TRUK aboard his flagship in August and remained there until some time in October when, anticipating the arrival of an American Task Force in the MARSHALLS Area, he went to BROWN (ENIWETOK). But as the American Task Forces did not make appearance, he returned once more to TRUK. He was in BROWN about a week, so the entire trip was between 10 and 20 October. On 11 February 1944, he once more came to TOKYO for further consulta ww2dbase
Source: United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) Interrogation of Japanese Officials [OPNAV-P-03-100], courtesy of ibilio Hyperwar Project
Added By: C. Peter Chen
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945