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Koga Mineichi (1885-1944)


Photograph of Koga Mineichi

Dull (1978)


Koga Mineichi was born in Saga prefecture and graduated from the Japanese naval academy in 1906. He rose quickly, in part because of family connections with the Imperial Household and in part because he was a genuinely capable officer.  He graduated from the Naval Staff College in 1915 and served in staff positions and as naval attaché in Paris in 1926-1928. He then commanded a cruiser and a battleship before being promoted to rear admiral in 1932. He then served in important staff positions, including commander of Yokosuka Navy Station, and as commander of 2 Fleet.

Koga shared Yamamoto’s pessimistic attitude towards war with the United States, but disagreed with him on the role of naval air power, remaining a strong battleship advocate until events proved the power of carriers. Commander of China Area Fleet at the outbreak of hostilities with the West, then of Yokosuka Naval Base, Koga became commander-in-chief of Combined Fleet on 21 April 1943, after Yamamoto was shot down by American fighters

Koga has sometimes been characterized as a cautious, conservative officer, but the plans he was formulating at the time of his death suggest otherwise.  He planned an aggressive counteroffensive in the Aleutians that was foiled by the loss to explosion (probably from mishandling of munitions) of the battleship Mutsu and crippling by American submarines of the light carrier Hiyo.  He then began reorganizing Combined Fleet along American lines, as task forces built around carriers, and organized a land-based air fleet to work in coordination with the carrier forces.  He planned to conserve his forces to inflict maximum damage on the Americans when they closed in for the kill. 

Koga never had the opportunity to put his plans into effect. He was killed when his aircraft went down in a typhoon off Mindanao on 31 March 1944.

Service record

1885-9    

Born in Saga prefecture
1906

Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 14th in a class of 175. Assigned to CL Matsushima
1907-8-5

BB Katori
1907-12-20
Ensign      CL Otowa
1908-5-15

CL Suma
1909-4-30

Gunnery School Basic Course
1909-8-5

Torpedo School Basic Course
1909-10-11
Lieutenant junior grade     

1909-12-22

CL Soya
1910-12-1

Instructor, Gunnery School
1911-6-1

BB Aki
1911-12-1
Lieutenant
Naval College B-Course
1912-5-22

Gunnery School Advanced Course
1912-12-20

BB Kashima
1913-12-1

Staff, 2 Fleet
1915-12-13

Navy Staff College A-Course
1917-12-1
Lieutenant Commander     
Naval General Staff
1918-3-5

Staff, Bureau of Navigation
1920-5-5

Resident, France
1922-12-1
Commander
Executive officer, Kitakami
1923-6-1

Instructor, Naval College
1925-10-20

Staff, 1 Fleet
1926-12-1    
Captain
Naval attache to France
1927-4-26

Naval advisor, Geneva conference
1929-4-1

Naval General Staff
1930-12-1

Comander, CA Aoba
1931-12-1

Commander, BB Ise
1932-12-1
Rear admiral     
Chief, N3, Navy General Staff
1933-9-15

Chief, N2, Navy General Staff
1936-12-1
Vice admiral Commander, Training Fleet
1937-12-1

Vice chief, Naval Staff Board
1939-10-21

Commander in chief, 2 Fleet
1941-9-1

Commander in chief, China Area Fleet
1942-5-1
Admiral

1942-11-10

Commander in chief, 1 Naval District
1943-4-21

Commander in chief, Combined Fleet
1944-3-31

Killed in air accident off Mindanao

References

Boatner (1996)

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Fuller (1992)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2007-11-2)
Peattie (2001)

Prados (1995)



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