6. He Spent Time on US Soil, Previous to the Pearl Harbor Attacks
Yamamoto was studious and he excelled in his education. Due to this, he set his sights on one of the greatest colleges in the world, attending Harvard University from 1919-1921. During the mid-1920s, Yamamoto also spent several years in Washington, D.C, discovering life as a naval attache.
While on US ground, Yamamoto learned English and shortly became fluent. He also traveled through the country, learning American customs and expanding his knowledge of US business practices. Naturally, the up and coming Admiral also learned how to play Bridge and poker, becoming a frequent gambler stateside as well.
5. The Pearl Harbor Plan was His Attempt to Stall the US Navy
As Yamamoto began to further engage in global politics, he believed that he could gain control of a war in the Pacific – but would only be able to sustain it for a year, tops. Knowing that the well-supplied and more-populated American military could effectively advance faster than he could prepare, he couldn’t fathom allowing them to overwhelm the Japanese defenses.
While Yamamoto wanted more time to strategize, he was forced to carry out orders from his higher ranking officers. Therefore, his decision was to devastate the US Navy’s fleet, orchestrating the Pearl Harbor assault to buy Japan more time to gain control over vital territory in South East Asia, as well as the Dutch East Indies.
4. He Wasn’t in Favor of War Between the US and China
Yamamoto certainly wasn’t making friends when it came to one theory of his. He opposed any war with China from the get-go, a stance that was not well-received with the majority of others in the Japanese government.
And to further complicate things for himself, Yamamoto was open about his distaste for tempting the US into war, knowing that while many officers in the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy welcomed the idea, they couldn’t win a long-term battle against the US in the Pacific.
Shockingly, being promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet by the Navy Minister in 1939 may have kept him alive. Rumors spread that had Yamamoto not been at sea, surrounded by his loyal officers and men, an attempt at an assassination could have very well spelled out a different fate for him.
3. He Did Want a Naval Battle with the US, But He Was Intent on Winning
Yamamoto wanted to send a clear and absolute message that the Japanese would rule the Pacific. To do this, he looked to other battles throughout history to gain inspiration, setting his sights on the Russo-Japanese war that ultimately ended in a Japanese victory. He hoped the US would be forced to negotiate for peace, should the same result occur in a battle with them for the Pacific.
Again going against popular opinion, Yamamoto did finally convince higher ranking officers that going on the offensive track was their best option. After all, he was looking towards the long-term, understanding that merely taking a defensive position to draw the US westwards in a showdown around the Philippines would probably end in their downfall.
Unfortunately for him, Yamamoto’s first strategy to go after Midway didn’t go as planned. US Intelligence were already hip to their plans after breaking Japanese Naval codes, and his fleet was bombarded by aircraft from two U.S. carriers, a few days before the Japanese were set to arrive.
As he was caught off guard, all four of his aircraft carriers were obliterated. And since it was Yamamoto’s belief that naval aviation would be the greatest asset for the Japanese, he was left struggling with a fleet that would never truly recover.
2. He Had Very Little Support from the Imperial Navy
Yamamoto had found himself quite unpopular with his superiors from the beginning of his term, not only for his opposition to a US-China showdown, but doubly so with the Imperial Army, whose more radical decisions came straight from the Japanese government. His defeat at Midway only fueled the fire, and Yamamoto had lost face with the Army and other senior ministers.
Therefore, Yamamoto was forced to coordinate with Japanese army operations from then on. But the Army often didn’t do their fair share, so many naval actions proved ineffective, only ending in more devastation to the Japanese fleet and their number of men.
1. He Met His End Through US Retaliation for the Pearl Harbor Attacks
On April 18th, 1943, the US were able to exact their revenge on Yamamoto and the Japanese forces.
The US had intercepted more communications stating that Yamamoto was flying in to the Solomon Islands, to carry out an inspection tour of his forces. The US quickly took action to foil these plans, dispatching 16 P-38 Lightning bombers to shoot down Yamamoto’s plane.
And the mission was indeed successful. Japan took another hit to their forces, while the US had been granted some solace for the Pearl Harbor attacks.