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Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

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Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Public domain photo.

Isoroku Yamamoto found himself in a troubling position during the pre-WW2 years as Japan began to militarily acquire possessions in the Pacific, and edged toward war with the U.S. A rising Japanese military figure, he actually opposed some facets of Japan's empire building which were likely to trigger a war with the U.S. He was outspoken in his views that Japan could not win a war with the much larger United States. This caused him to become the target of an unsuccessful assassination plot from Japanese army officers..

His convictions made him an unlikely candidate to plan an attack on Pearl Harbor, yet, when he realized Japan would not give up its course, he felt a preemptive attack would at least give his country an early, although temporary advantage.

Childhood and Education

Yamamoto grew up in poverty, yet received a good education during his early years. He worked hard in school, and in 1901, was able win an appointment to the Imperial Naval Academy. His personality and aptitude for the military allowed him to rise through the ranks. He was sent to the United States where he studied at Harvard University from 1919 to 1921 and from 1925-28 he served as Naval Attache to the United States. He was able to travel while in the U.S. and see first hand, the size of American industry and the country itself.

Yamamoto in Command

After returning to Japan, Yamamoto was responsible for developing new naval aircraft and weapons. He reorganized the Japanese carrier force into the major striking unit of the navy in place of the battleship. In November, 1940, he attained the rank of Admiral and began planning the infamous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. As commander of the Combined Fleet, Yamamoto was responsible for planning the major operations after Pearl Harbor as well.

On April 18, 1943, Admiral Yamamoto was killed when his plane was shot down by American P-38 lightnnings, in an aerial ambush.