Imperial Japanese Navy

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The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was Japan's navy during the Imperial era (late 1800s to 1945) and was one of the most powerful navies of its time. Although the IJN was eventually beaten by the US Navy in World War II, the IJN had proven itself a formidable opponent to both the British and Russian navies. An example of its effectiveness was its smashing victory at Tsushima Strait against the well-trained Russian Baltic fleet, in the final battle of the Russo-Japanese War.

main battles of the IJN in World War II Pacific

The IJN was one of the first navies in the world to recognize the strategic importance of aircraft carriers, and had the most powerful carrier fleet in the world at the beginning of World War II. Japanese admirals were admirers of the strategic doctrine of American theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan, and put all their emphasis on the decisive fleet battle. They ignored logistics and allowed their supply system to be destroyed by American submarines because they refused to use "defensive" tactics like convoys to protect their merchant ships, transports and tankers.

Japanese expansion in the Pacific

Battle of Pearl Harbor
Battle of Midway
Battle of Coral Sea
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

Defeat of the Japanese Empire

Battle of the Philippine Sea
Battle of Leyte Gulf
Battle of Okinawa


  • Agawa, Hiroyuki. The Reluctant Admiral (1982) excerpt and text search
  • Bergerud, Eric M. Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific (2000) online edition
  • Blair Jr., Clay, Silent Victory (1975), on submarines
  • Costello, John. The Pacific War. (1982). survey
  • Dull, Paul S. A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941 - 1945), (1978) (ISBN 0870210971)
  • Dunnigan, James F., and Albert A. Nofi. The Pacific War Encyclopedia. (2 vol 1998) 772p.
  • Gailey, Harry A. The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay (1995) online edition
  • Hastings, Max. Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 (2008), 656pp
  • Inoguchi, Rikihei, Tadashi Nakajima, and Robert Pineau. The Divine Wind. 1958. on Kamikaze.
  • Marston, Daniel, ed. The Pacific War Companion: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima (2005), 272pp excerpt and text search
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 3, The Rising Sun in the Pacific. (1961); Vol. 4, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions. 1949; Vol. 5, The Struggle for Guadalcanal. (1949); Vol. 6, Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier. 1950; Vol. 7, Aleutians, Gilberts, and Marshalls. (1951); Vol. 8, New Guinea and the Marianas. (1962); Vol. 12, Leyte. (1958); vol. 13, The Liberation of the Philippines: Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas. (1959); Vol. 14, Victory in the Pacific. (1961). classic official history of U.S. Navy
  • Okumiya, Masatake and Mitso Fuchida. Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan. (1955).
  • Potter, E. B. and Chester W. Nimitz. Triumph in the Pacific. (1963). Naval battles
  • Prange, Gordon W. At Dawn We Slept. (1982), the standard history of the Pearl Harbor attack excerpt and text search
  • Prange, Gordon W. Miracle at Midway. (1982), the standard history excerpt and text search
  • Smith, J. Douglas and Richard Jensen. World War II on the Web: A Guide to the Very Best Sites. (2002)
  • Spector, Ronald. Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan (1985). excerpt and text search
  • Toland, John. The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945 (1970); Pulitzer Prize history from Japanese perspective; excerpt and text search
  • Willmott, H. P. Empires in Balance. (1982).
  • Woodward, C. Vann. The Battle for Leyte Gulf (1947) online edition
  • Yahara, Hiromichi. The Battle For Okinawa (1997), Japanese perspective excerpt and text search
  • Y'Blood, William. Red Sun Setting: The Battle of the Philippine Sea. (1980).
  • Zimmerman, John L. The Guadalcanal Campaign (1949) online edition

Primary sources

  • Evans, David C., ed, The Japanese Navy In World War Ii: In the Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1993 (ISBN 0870213164)