Sankichi Takahashi

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Sankichi Takahashi
Sankiti takahashi.jpg
Sankichi Takahashi
Native name 高橋 三吉
Born (1882-08-24)August 24, 1882
Died June 15, 1966(1966-06-15) (aged 83)
Allegiance  Empire of Japan
Service/branch  Imperial Japanese Navy
Rank Admiral

Sankichi Takahashi (高橋 三吉, Takahashi Sankichi, August 24, 1882 – June 15, 1966) was an Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy. After the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 Takahashi, an important figure of the IJN's Fleet Faction,[1] made a swift career, from commander of an obsolete cruiser in 1923 to commander of the Combined Fleet in 1934. He was instrumental in crushing the opposing moderate Treaty Faction but soon lost his command in another round of political turmoil.

Career after World War One[edit]

In the 1920s, the Japanese Navy brass was split into an "administrative" Treaty Faction that accepted limitations imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty and a "command" Fleet Faction that opposed them. Takahashi Sankichi, promoted by his superior Kato Kanji, was on the Fleet side headed by Prince Fushimi Hiroyasu, Kato Kanji and Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō.[2] He held brief assignments on the high seas, commanding the cruiser Aso (1923–1924) and battleship Fusō (1924–1925).[3] and headed the Operations section of Naval General Staff under vice chief Kato Kanji who actually ran the organization, overwhelming its mild-mannered chief Yamashita Gentarō.[4]

Takahashi became chief of staff of the Combined Fleet in 1927, when Kato Kanji assumed command and subjected the fleet to the most rigorous and risky drills, attempting to compensate numeric constraints of the Washington Treaty with superior training.[5] Ten years later, as the Commander of Combined Fleet, Takahashi upheld the same mentality: "If we are compelled to use the short sword to combat a foe brandishing the long sword, I am sure we shall win! We have tactics to defeat the combined fleets of Great Britain and the U.S.";[6] "Implant in the mind of every man and every officer that Japan will be the inevitable victor in any international conflict."[7] He continued to rally against Washington Treaty limitations during the Geneva Naval Conference of 1927, supporting the faction of Mineo Ōsumi and Tōgō Heihachirō.[8] The moderates tried to restore their influence in the late 1920s but were finally crushed by the Fleet Faction in 1932-1933.[9]

In 1928, Takahashi was appointed the first commander of the newly formed First Carrier Division, IJN's first air supremacy formation.[10]

Crushing the opposition[edit]

In February 1932, Takahashi was appointed vice chief of Naval General Staff through the efforts of Kato Kanji[11][12] while Prince Fushimi chaired the Staff from January 1932 to March 1941.[2] Asada wrote that Takahashi "virtually controlled the naval high command in this capacity",[13] Ian Gow argued that Prince Fushimi was an independent and capable leader in his own right.[14] Immediately upon promotion, Takahashi revived the plans to expand the Staff authority and reduce that of the Naval Ministry that he developed for Kato Kanji in 1922.[2][15] In September 1933, the Fleet Faction prevailed and Fushimi gained clear supremacy over Navy Minister Mineo Ōsumi.[2][16] In 1933-1934, the militarists silenced the opposition leaders and forced them to retire during the Osumi purge, thus gaining unchecked control of the Navy.[17][18] After World War II, Takahashi recalled that "one of his aims [in the 1932 struggle for power] was to be prepared with a war with the United States"; he feared that the Shanghai Incident of 1932 could escalate into a major Japanese-American war.[19]

Takahashi on board the battleship Yamashiro in 1935

In November 1934, Takahashi was appointed commander of the Combined Fleet and held this command for two years. Contrary to the battleship mentality of the old-school admirals, he spoke in favor of increasing aircraft carrier arm of the Fleet; his opinion was rejected by both General Staff and the Navy Ministry and ultimately cost him his career; he was cut off from any further information on the Navy's future.[20]

Political statements[edit]

Takahashi did not have significant naval commands during World War II; Allied press called him "president of the East Asia Development Association" in 1942[21] and "commander of the big Kure naval station" in 1944.[22]

As the former commander of Combined Fleet, well known in Japan and abroad and not involved in actual combat, Takahashi regularly spoke to the public on military and political topics, before and after[23] the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1936, he spoke that "Japan's economic advantage must be directed southward, with either Formosa or the South Sea Islands as a foothold";[24] in November 1940 he presented the Navy's view of the Empire's plans: "It will be constructed in several stages. In the first stage, the sphere that Japan demands includes Manchukuo, China, Indo-China, Burma, Straits Settlements, Netherlands Indies, New Caledonia, New Guinea, many islands in the West Pacific, Japan's mandated islands and the Philippines. Australia and the rest of the East Indies can be included later...".[25][26]

Takahashi was an early adopter of Aikido and invited its founder Morihei Ueshiba to the Naval Staff College as a budō instructor; Ueshiba trained IJN officers for ten years.[27] Allied war-time sources connected Takahashi Sankichi with the Black Dragon Society that allegedly infiltrated the United States and silenced political opposition in Japan. (However, the only Takahashi listed in Richard Storry's The Double Patriots: A study of Japanese Nationalism (1956), whose sources are the IMTFE transcripts and exhibits and also the Saionji-Harada memoirs, is Takahashi Hidetomi).

In the beginning of December 1945, General Douglas MacArthur placed Takahashi on the list of 59 most wanted Japanese along with Prince Nashimoto Morimasa and admiral Soemu Toyoda.[28] He was freed in December 1948.[29]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Asada uses "command faction" for Fleet Faction and "administrative faction" for Treaty Faction.
  2. ^ a b c d Asada 2007, p. 140
  3. ^ Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp (2009). "IJN FUSO: Tabular Record of Movement". 
  4. ^ Asada 2006, p. 102
  5. ^ Asada 2006, pp. 109-110
  6. ^ "Naval Conference: Challenge to Hell". Time Magazine. January 27, 1936. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  7. ^ Rose, p. 65
  8. ^ Asada 2006, p. 121
  9. ^ Asada 2006, p. 122
  10. ^ Goldstein, Dillon p. 76
  11. ^ Asada 2007, p. 139
  12. ^ Gow, p. 294
  13. ^ Asada 2006, p. 165
  14. ^ Gow, pp. 294-295
  15. ^ Asada 2006, p. 170
  16. ^ Asada 2006, p. 171, describes the intrigue that forced Osumi into submission.
  17. ^ Asada 2007, pp. 140-141
  18. ^ Gow, p. 295, wrote that Asada and Stephen Pelz overemphasized the role of Kato Kanji in the 1933 events. He gives full credit to Fushimi Hiroyasu and Takahashi Sankichi.
  19. ^ Asada 2006, p. 171
  20. ^ Peattie, p. 84
  21. ^ Japan's Duty Helds U. S. Annihilation. The New York Times. 1942, December 7.
  22. ^ Okayama Blasted. The New York Times. 1944, October 15.
  23. ^ See for example "World Battlefronts: Halsey in the Empire". Time Magazine. October 23, 1944. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  24. ^ Myers, Peattie p. 123
  25. ^ "Far East: Teeth between smiles". Time Magazine. November 25, 1940. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  26. ^ See modern comments on this statement in Rose, pp. 147-148.
  27. ^ Kisshomaru Ueshiba (August 1983). "Founder of Aikido (28): The Shirogane Saru-Cho and the Mita Tsuna-Cho Periods". Aikido Journal. 
  28. ^ "Arrests ordered by Macarthur of 59 leading Japs". The Canberra Times. December 4, 1945. 
  29. ^