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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien


Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien 3-3-6 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0074 Tel: 03 – 3222 5198, Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


A Battle against Tradition? The Establishment of the Air Wing of the Imperial Japanese Navy

July 9, 2002 / 6.30 P.M.

Jens Sagen, International Christian University (ICU)

When the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its air wing in the attack on Pearl Harbor in the morning of December 8, 1941, it was the state of art in aviation and the best personnel in the world that took off from the decks of the attack force. Japan surprised not only the United States but the entire international community by having what was at the time the finest air force in the world, in an era where navies were focusing primarily on surface warfare and had only recently begun to consider the aircraft as a potential weapon.
Established as a part of a service, in which the prevailing view of how a navy should be composed and conducted in battle was a conservative one, the air wing and the men remained subordinate to the mainstream ideology of the Imperial Navy, despite the fact that they held most of the honor for continuous Japanese victories in the first stages of the war.
This presentation seeks to place the development of the air wing of the Imperial Navy in relation to a conflict, which took place within the Imperial Japanese Navy in the decade prior to the outbreak of World War II. After introducing the main ideology of the Imperial Navy, I will discuss how adherence to this put a restrain on the naval air force of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and consequently prevented its development prior to and during the war.