|Born||7 Apr 1891|
|Died||13 Jun 1945|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseMinoru Ota was a native of Nagara, Chiba, Japan. He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy in 1913. As a midshipman, he served aboard cruiser Azuma, making port calls at Honolulu, San Pedro, San Francisco, Vancouver, Victoria, Tacoma, Seattle, Hakodate, and Aomori. He was then assigned to battleship Kawachi. As an ensign, he served aboard battleship Fuso. In 1916, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and entered naval artillery school. Due to tuberculosis, he was taken off active duty between Nov 1917 and Sep 1918. In 1918, he completed torpedo school and advanced courses in naval artillery. After brief tours of duty aboard battleship Hiei and Fuso, he became an instructor at the Naval Engineering College.
ww2dbaseIn 1932, Ota commanded a battalion of Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF) during the First Battle of Shanghai in China. In 1934, he was promoted to the rank of commander. In 1936, he became the executive officer of battleship Yamashiro. In 1937, he became the commanding officer of oiler Tsurumi. He was promoted to the rank of captain in Dec 1937.
ww2dbaseIn 1938, after the Second Sino-Japanese War had begun, Ota became the commanding officer of the Kure 6th SNLF. In 1941, he commanded the SNLF troops under the Japanese China Area Fleet at Wuhan, China. In 1939, he returned to Japan to take command of the 2nd Combined Special Naval Landing Force, which was training for the invasion and occupation of Midway Atoll, which would never take place. At the rank of rear admiral, he commanded the 8th Combined Special naval Landing Force at New Georgia, Solomon Islands against the US First Raider Battalion. Returning to Japan in 1943, he served in various administrative posts until Jan 1945, when he was reassigned to Okinawa, Japan as the naval commanding officer.
ww2dbaseOta's troops at Okinawa numbered 10,000 men on paper, but in actuality, half of them were civilian laborers recently conscripted into military service while the remainder were mostly former naval gunners, none of whom were trained in combat. Ota made do with what he had, putting up a fierce defense after the American invasion had taken place, slowing falling back toward the Oroku Peninsula. On 6 Jun 1945, he sent the following telegram.
ww2dbaseMore than two months have passed since we engaged the invaders. In complete unity and harmony with the Army, we have made every effort to crush the enemy.
ww2dbaseDespite our efforts the battle is going against us. My own troops are at a disadvantage since all available heavy guns and four crack battalions of naval landing forces were allocated to Army command. Also enemy equipment is greatly superior to our own.
ww2dbaseI tender herewith my deepest apology to the Emperor for my failure to better defend the Empire, the grave task with which I was entrusted.
ww2dbaseThe troops under my command have fought gallantly, in the finest tradition of the Japanese Navy. Fierce bombing and bombardments may deform the mountains of Okinawa but cannot alter the loyal spirit of our men. We hope and pray for the perpetuation of the Empire and gladly give our lives for that goal.
ww2dbaseTo the Navy Minister and all my superior officers I tender sincerest appreciation and gratitude for their kindness of many years. At the same time, I earnestly beg you to give thoughtful consideration to the families of my men who fall at this outpost as soldiers of the Emperor.
ww2dbaseWith my officers and men I give three cheers to the Emperor and pray for the everlasting peace of the Empire.
ww2dbaseThough my body decay in remote Okinawa, my spirit will persist in the defense of the homeland.
ww2dbaseIt was what Ota thought would be his last message, but he was able to hold his lines for a few more days. On 11 Jun 1945, men of US 6th Marine Division surrounded Ota's positions. At 1600 hours on 12 Jun, he sent his final telegram to the Japanese Army 32nd Army Headquarters, seen below.
ww2dbaseMessage number 062016
ww2dbasePlease convey the following telegram to the Vice Admiral. The Prefectural Governor should be the person to relay this report on the present condition of the war on Okinawa, but the Okinawa Prefectural Government has no means of communication, and the 32nd Division Headquarters appear to be thoroughly occupied with their own correspondence traffic. I feel compelled to file this urgent report though it is without the consent of the Prefectural Governor.
ww2dbaseSince the enemy attack began, our Army and Navy has been fighting defensive battles and have not been able to tend to the people of the Prefecture.
ww2dbaseConsequently, due to our negligence, these innocent people have lost their homes and property to enemy assault. Every man has been conscribed to defense while women, children, and elders are forced into hiding in the small underground shelters which are not tactically significant or are exposed to shelling, air raids, and [illegible] wind and rain. Moreover, girls have devoted themselves to nursing and cooking, as well as volunteering to carry ammunition and join in attacking the enemy.
ww2dbaseThis leaves the village people vulnerable to enemy attacks where they will surely be killed. In desperation, some parents have asked the military to protect their daughters, for fear that when the enemy comes, elders and children will be killed and young women and girls will be taken to private areas and harmed.
ww2dbaseAfter military medical personnel had moved on, the volunteer nurses stayed behind to help the badly wounded move. They are dedicated and go about their work with a strong will.
ww2dbaseThe military has changed its operation, forcing people to evacuate residential areas. Those without transportation trudge on in the dark and rain, without complaining, all the while searching for food. Ever since our Army and Navy occupied Okinawa, the inhabitants of this prefecture have endured these constant hardships.
ww2dbaseThe Okinawan people have been asked to volunteer their labor and conserve all their resources (mostly without complaint.) In their heart, they wish only to serve as loyal Japanese. Finally, [illegible]. This battle is nearing its end, the situation of the island of Okinawa [illegible].
ww2dbaseThere are no trees, no grass; everything is burnt to the ground. The food supply will be gone by the end of June. This is how the Okinawan people have fought the war.
ww2dbaseAnd for this reason, I appeal to you to give the Okinawan people special consideration from this day forward.
ww2dbaseOn 13 Jun, Ota's troops made a final suicidal charge against the Americans as the situation became impossible. Ota and six of his lieutenants committed suicide in the Japanese Navy's underground headquarters.
ww2dbaseOta was posthumously promoted to the rank of vice admiral.
ww2dbaseSources: the Divine Wind, the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2009
Minoru Ota Timeline
|7 Apr 1891||Minoru Ota was born.|
|9 Mar 1943||Rear Admiral Minoru Ota, commanding officer of the Japanese Navy 8th Combined Special Landing Force, was given responsibility for the defense of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands.|
|13 Jun 1945||Minoru Ota passed away.|
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945