Osami Nagano

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Osami Nagano
永野 修身
Osami Nagano, c1940
Minister of the Imperial Japanese Navy
In office
9 March 1936 – 2 February 1937
Prime MinisterKōki Hirota
Preceded byŌsumi Mineo
Succeeded byYonai Mitsumasa
Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy
General Staff
In office
9 April 1941 – 21 February 1944
Prime Minister
Preceded byPrince Fushimi Hiroyasu
Succeeded byShimada Shigetarō
Personal details
Born(1880-06-15)June 15, 1880
Kōchi, Kōchi Prefecture, Japan
DiedJanuary 5, 1947(1947-01-05) (aged 66)[1]
Sugamo Prison, Tokyo, Occupied Japan
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service1900–1947
Rank Marshal Admiral
Battles/warsWorld War I, World War II

Osami Nagano (永野 修身, Nagano Osami, June 15, 1880 – January 5, 1947) was a Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of the leaders of Japan's military during most of the Second World War. In April 1941, he became Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff. In this capacity, he served as the navy's commander-in-chief in the Asia-Pacific theater of World War II until his removal in February 1944. After the war, he was arrested by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East but died of natural causes in prison during the trial.

Early life and career[edit]

Nagano was born in Kōchi to an ex-samurai family. In 1900, he graduated from the 28th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, ranking second in a class of 105 cadets. After completing service as a midshipman on the cruiser Hashidate and the battleship Asahi, he was commissioned an ensign and assigned to the cruiser Asama. During the Russo-Japanese War, he served in a number of staff positions. The closest he came to combat was commanding a land-based heavy naval gun unit during the siege of Port Arthur.[citation needed]

After his promotion to lieutenant in 1905, Nagano served on the battleship Shikishima. From 1905 to 1906, he studied naval artillery and navigation. From 1906 to 1908, he was chief gunnery officer on the cruiser Itsukushima. In 1909, he graduated from the Japanese Naval War College.

In 1910, Nagano was promoted to lieutenant commander and assigned as chief gunnery officer on the battleship Katori. From January 1913 to April 1915, he was a language officer in the United States, during which time he studied at Harvard Law School.

During World War I, Nagano was executive officer on the cruisers Nisshin and cruiser Iwate. In 1918, he was promoted to captain. In 1919, he received his first (and only) ship command, the cruiser Hirado.[3]

From December 1920, Nagano was a military attaché to the United States. In this capacity, he attended the Washington Naval Conference. In November 1923, he returned home, although he returned to the United States on official visits in 1927 and 1933. In December 1923, he was promoted to rear admiral.

Rise to Imperial Navy Leadership[edit]

Osami Nagano

In February 1924, Nagano was chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff Third Section (Intelligence). From December 1924, he commanded the 3rd Battleship Division. From April 1925, he commanded the 1st China Expeditionary Fleet. In December 1927, he was promoted to vice admiral.

From 1928 to 1929, Nagano was commandant of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy. Nagano introduced and influenced Progressive education method such as Dalton Plan to Japanese Naval Academy.[4] [title missing][author missing]

From 1930 to 1931, he was vice chief of the Navy General Staff, in which capacity he attended the Geneva Naval Conference. He attended the London Naval Conference 1930. From 1933 to 1934, he was commander in chief of the Yokosuka Naval District. On 1 March 1934, he was promoted to admiral and appointed to the Supreme War Council. Nagano was the chief naval delegate to the London Naval Conference 1935.[citation needed] Japan withdrew in protest from the 1935 London Conference after it was denied naval parity with the United States and Great Britain.

In 1936, Nagano was appointed Navy Minister under Prime Minister Kōki Hirota. Later in 1937, he became commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet. By April 1941, he had risen to the very top of the Japanese Navy leadership to become chief of the Imperial Japanese Naval General Staff.

World War II[edit]

A staunch believer in Nanshin-ron , Admiral Nagano played a central role in Japan's decision to go to war with the United States. After Japanese forces occupied southern Indochina on 24 July 1941, the U.S. and its Western Allies froze Japanese assets within their borders thereby resulting in a halt on all oil shipments to Japan.[5] At the end of the month, Nagano informed Emperor Hirohito that the nation's oil supply would run out in two years if the embargo was not lifted.[6] Consequently, he advised that Japan should be ready for war within that timeframe if attempts at diplomacy failed.[7] By September 1941, he and the Army's Chief of Staff, General Hajime Sugiyama, called for Japan to be placed on an immediate war-footing and for an end to all negotiations by mid-October. [8]

According to some Japanese sources, Nagano presented a peace proposal before a conference on November 1, 1941 but this was ultimately struck down by Prime Minister Tojo Hideki.[9][10][unreliable source?].

After learning about the issues of launching a 'surprise attack' on the naval fleet of the United States in Pearl Harbor since he viewed it as a needless diversion of Japan's carrier fleet and a risky proposition for the entire Empire, Nagano initially opposed Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's planned attack on Pearl Harbor, but reluctantly gave his approval for the attack after Yamamoto threatened to resign as Combined Fleet commander.[11][12] Between 1941 and 1944, at meetings with the top Army staff, Nagano reputedly napped.[13]

In 1943, Nagano was promoted to marshal admiral. By 1944, however, Japan had suffered serious military setbacks and Nagano had lost the confidence of Emperor Hirohito.[14] With the emperor's approval, Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō and Navy Minister Shigetarō Shimada removed Nagano from his post and replaced him. Nagano spent the remainder of the war as an advisor to the government.


  • According to the opinion of the Japanese government, if Japan accepts the demand of the United States, Japan will perish. However, even if Japan fights against the United States, Japan may perish. That is, accepting the request of the United States will destroy Japan without fighting the United States. Even if we fight against the United States, if Japan can not avoid the danger of extinction, if Japan defeats without fighting with the United States, the Japanese people will truly disappear from the earth. However, if Japanese people can fight and show the spirit of defending Japan, even if Japan fights against America, our descendants will always rebuild Japan. We hope to solve problems in diplomatic negotiations. But unfortunately we will be fighting if we are to be commanded to wage war. (September 6, 1941, Osami Nagano)[15] [title missing]

War crimes trial[edit]

After World War II in 1945, the American Occupation forces arrested Nagano. He was charged with Class A war criminal charges before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. When US naval officers interrogated him, he was described as "thoroughly cooperative," "keenly alert," "intelligent," and "anxious to develop American friendship."[16] He died of a heart attack due to complications arising from pneumonia in Sugamo Prison in Tokyo before the conclusion of his trial.

Naval career[edit]

IJN Insignia Rank Date
海軍少尉候補生 Kaigun Shōi Kōhōsei
13 December 1900
海軍少尉 Kaigun Shōi
18 January 1902
海軍中尉 Kaigun Chūi
(Sub-Lieutenant/Lieutenant Junior Grade)
26 September 1903
海軍大尉 Kaigun Daii
12 January 1905
海軍少佐 Kaigun Shōsa
1 December 1910
海軍中佐 Kaigun Chūsa
1 December 1914
海軍大佐 Kaigun Daisa
1 December 1918
海軍少将 Kaigun Shōshō
1 December 1923
海軍中将 Kaigun Chūjō
1 December 1927
海軍大将 Kaigun Taishō
1 March 1934
元帥海軍大将 Gensui Kaigun Taishō
21 June 1943



  • Bradley, F.J. (2014). He Gave the Order: The Life and Times of Admiral Osami Nagano. Bennington, VT: Merriam Press. ISBN 9781576383711.
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X.
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1.
  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7.
  • Hotta, Eri (2013). Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy. New York City, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-307-59401-3.
  • Iriye, Akira (1999). Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War: A Brief History With Documents and Essays. Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN 0-312-14788-0.
  • Kershaw, Ian (2008). Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-311372-0.
  • Parshall, Johnathan (2005). Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Potomac Books. ISBN 1-57488-923-0.
  • Tucker, Spencer C (2011). World War II at Sea:An Encyclopedia. ABC-Clio Inc. ISBN 978-1-59884-457-3.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy
  2. ^ a b Nagano Osami at navalhistory.flixco.info
  3. ^ Tucker, World War II:An Encyclopedia, page 529
  4. ^ JapaneseBOOK”戸高一成『証言録 海軍反省会』2009”
  5. ^ Iriye 1999, p. 9.
  6. ^ Bradley 2014, p. 95.
  7. ^ Hotta 2013, p. 148.
  8. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 339–341.
  9. ^ Japanese book,”鳥居民『山本五十六の乾坤一擲』”
  10. ^ JapaneseBOOK”Takushiro Hattori『大東亜戦争全史』1969”
  11. ^ Evans. Kaigun. page 528-529
  12. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (2010). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 3: The Rising Sun in the Pacific 1931–April 1942. Naval Institute Press. p. 83–84.
  13. ^ Strategy Page (accessed 00.51 13 June 2011)
  14. ^ D’Abas, Death of a Navy
  15. ^ JapaneseBOOK”Toshio Motoya『【増補版】理論近現代史学 本当の日本の歴史』2017”
  16. ^ USSBS, Interrogations of Japanese Officials